RoK cements ASEAN ties with clear vision, policy initiative

VNA
 The Republic of Korea (RoK) pledges to cement ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with a clear vision, resources and concrete action plans, Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Yoon Soon-gu told Yonhap News Agency in a recent interview.

Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Yoon Soon-gu (Source: Yonhap News Agency)

Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Yoon Soon-gu (Source: Yonhap News Agency)

He said central to that commitment is Seoul's New Southern Policy that it has forged ahead with the installation of a special presidential panel and a foreign ministry bureau solely for ASEAN affairs, and sharp increases in related projects, staff and funding.

The initiative is set to gain greater traction in November when the RoK hosts a commemorative summit with ASEAN in the southeastern port city of Busan to mark 30 years since the two sides established bilateral dialogue relations.

"Partnering with ASEAN is not just a matter of choice but a path now clearly presented to us,” Yoon said.

"We are pursuing a mutually beneficial partnership and co-prosperity, not a one-way street. We have a clear policy goal that seeks a kind of cooperation to contribute to the development of ASEAN," he added.

Over the past two years, the initiative has been making steady progress as evidenced by numerical data.

The number of visitors traveling between the RoK and the ASEAN region surpassed the 10 million mark in 2018. The number of ASEAN students studying in the RoK amounted to 32,574 last year compared with 19,000 recorded in 2017.

Two-way trade reached a record high of US$160 billion in 2018. The two sides have set a goal of increasing the volume to $200 billion by next year.

The RoK has also doubled a government fund dedicated to bolstering cooperation with ASEAN to $14 million.

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