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 Korea to share 'New Asia Initiative' with ASEAN

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PostSubject: Korea to share 'New Asia Initiative' with ASEAN   Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:13 am

By Na Jeong-ju

President Lee Myung-bak will step up his “New Asia Initiative,” which calls for closer diplomatic and economic ties between Korea and its regional partners, during his three-day trip to Vietnam, presidential aides said Thursday.

Lee arrived in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi for annual talks with the leaders of the ASEAN, an economic bloc of 10 Southeast Asian nations, as well as China and Japan on Friday.

On Saturday he will also attend a broader East Asia Summit joined by India, Australia and New Zealand to discuss ways to strengthen regional cooperation on such challenging issues as North Korea’s nuclear threat and global warming.

On the sidelines of the forum, Lee will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to discuss measures to deal with North Korea to promote regional peace and security, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

During the trip, Lee will reaffirm Korea’s commitment to playing a bridging role between the developed and emerging countries at the upcoming G20 Seoul Summit next month and to find solutions to the global currency dispute, trade protectionism and other pressing issues.

“The President will call for a broader support from the leaders to ensure a successful hosting of the G20 meeting,” presidential spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung said.

During his talks with the ASEAN leaders, Lee will propose diverse projects to share Korea’s growth experience with the region and increase economic and cultural exchanges based on the New Asia Initiative.

Under the program, Seoul is seeking to expand the scope of its diplomacy beyond East Asia, Europe and the United States and upgrade relations with more Asian countries in the areas of economy, security and culture.

In doing so, it plans to represent their common voices on the global stage in charting a roadmap for sustainable and balanced economic growth and addressing challenging security and environmental issues, Lee’s aides said.

Korea has invited Vietnam and Singapore as observers to the G20 Seoul Summit.

The vision reflects confidence that Korea’s ties with its traditional allies, such as the United States and Japan, have improved significantly since he took office in February 2008.

As part of efforts to raise the country’s international status, the government is now expanding development assistance to poor countries and increasing its participation in peacekeeping missions with the United Nations in conflict areas around the world.

President Lee has pledged to increase economic contributions to developing countries in Asia and promote cultural exchanges based on the growing popularity of Korean dramas and pop songs.

The country is seeking to sign free trade agreements not only with the Southeast Asian countries, but also other Asia-Pacific countries to further regional economic cooperation.

“In the coming years, Seoul will focus on upgrading diplomatic relations with countries all over the world, particularly Asian and African countries, on the occasion of the country’s hosting of the G20 forum,” said a spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

At the end of their talks in Hanoi, Friday, Lee and the ASEAN leaders intend to announce a decision to upgrade their relations to a “strategic partnership” and unveil a set of measures to boost economic exchanges.

He is scheduled to hold a series of bilateral talks with his counterparts from Vietnam, Indonesia and India.
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