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Seoul Eager to Expand Ties with ASEAN

Seoul Eager to Expand Ties with ASEAN

BALI, Indonesia - President Roh Moo-hyun said Tuesday (Oct. 7) that South Korea will seek to regularize a meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic ministers from next year in a bid to boost economic ties with member nations.

“The consultation channel between South Korea and ASEAN, which has thus far been confined to political and diplomatic sectors, will be expanded to the economic and trade sectors,” Roh said in an address to the ASEAN Business Investment Summit composed of foreign ministers and business leaders.

Roh said his administration would set up a South Korea-ASEAN economic ministers’ meeting and senior economic officials’ meeting next year as regular forums.

He added that South Korea would actively take part in the regional financial cooperation now being promoted by the finance ministers from ASEAN, South Korea, China and Japan.

“At the same time, we will also vigorously search for ways to cooperate with ASEAN in such new growth industries of the 21st century as information and technology, bio-technology and nano-technology,” he said.

Roh emphasized that with the trade volume between the two sides standing at $35.2 billion last year, South Korea and ASEAN have become the each other’s fifth largest trading partner, and areas of cooperation have broadened.

“But we should not be satisfied with this level of outcome,” he added.

“While strengthening its role in Northeast Asia, South Korea will increase cooperation with the members of ASEAN and is committed to the prosperity and solidarity of the entire East Asian region,” he said.

Roh said he has been following with keen interest the way ASEAN has pursued economic integration through the ASEAN Free Trade Area as well as the way it has tried to build comprehensive economic cooperation with neighboring countries such as China, Japan and India.

The president also called for the member nations of ASEAN to support South Korea’s bid to peacefully resolve the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear development program through dialogue.

“Military tension and confrontation on the Korean Peninsula cannot be an obstacle to the stability and prosperity of all of East Asia. I expect that the second round of talks will be held in the near future, and I hope goods results will be forthcoming,” he said.

“I call on the ASEAN economic leaders to support us and continue to have interest in our endeavors to find a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear problem,” he said.

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