ASEAN, South Korea agree to enhance strategic alliance

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Wrapping up two days of meetings, ASEAN and South Korean leaders on Friday (Dec 12) agreed to work together to develop a plan that can enhance their strategic alliance going forward.

South Korea and ASEAN have wrapped up their two-day meeting, agreeing to work together to develop a plan that can enhance their strategic alliance going forward. Such a plan would include increased trade between the two sides and better economic collaboration.

The meeting marked the 25th anniversary of bilateral dialogue between the two sides. On politics and security issues, leaders agreed to work together to promote peace on the Korean peninsula and the region by getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye said: “(We) agreed to expand the scope to deal with human rights, democracy and another matters of basic freedom. We, the leaders, reaffirmed our commitment to prompt denuclearisation of North Korea and stressed the importance of creating conditions necessary for its complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation.”

Which country she was referring to in her ambiguous comments about human rights remained unclear as reporters were not allowed to ask questions at the press conference. Apart from the security and political issues, all leaders also agreed that they should make more use of the free trade agreement that was signed between the two sides in 2006.

South Korea’s bilateral trade with ASEAN totalled US$135 billion in 2013. They are aiming to increase that to US$150 billion next year and to US$200 billion by 2020. Currently, ASEAN is South Korea’s second largest trading partner and the third largest investment partner.

South Korea is also looking to make changes to its visa requirements for ASEAN citizens by making it easier for tourists from both sides to travel to one anothers’ countries. Right now, the ASEAN region is the number one travel destination for South Korea tourists and there has been a steady increase in the number of visitors travelling between ASEAN and South Korea over the years, averaging more than five million every year.

President Park said: “Looking into the next 25 years together, the leaders adopted the joint statement on the future vision of ASEAN-ROK action with a view to making it more concrete to establish the 2016-2020 plan of action.” This is the second such meeting between the two sides. The last one was held five years ago.

A flurry of bilateral meetings took place during the two-day meeting between South Korea and all the 10 ASEAN leaders who were attending the special summit. South Korea is hoping that this event would allow it to play a greater role in the ASEAN Community when it is created in 2015.




Source : Channel News Asia | December 12, 2014

Thomas D’Innocenzi


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