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‘Korea, ASEAN Emerge as New Pillar of Growth’

Posted June. 01, 2009 08:03,   


A summit between Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations opens today at the International Convention Center in Seogwipo, Jeju Island, to mark the 20th anniversary of bilateral ties. The leaders of the ten countries in the regional bloc are attending.

In his keynote speech at the Korea-ASEAN CEO Summit yesterday, President Lee Myung-bak said, “Asia is emerging as a new pillar of growth in the global economy banking on its huge growth potential.”

He then proposed three ways of cooperation between the two sides: expansion of trade and investment, more exchanges in culture and tourism, and higher cooperation in green growth.

“Korea and ASEAN must establish a practical regional business community based on their economic relations that have grown so remarkably over the years,” he said. “The two sides must become one community in the economic arena wherein parties can do business freely.”

In a related move, the leaders of Korea and the 10 Southeast Asian nations will sign a free trade agreement tomorrow, the final day of the two-day summit.

Both sides are set to conclude a free trade agreement on investment, something which they began discussing in their summit held Nov. 30, 2004. The agreement will take effect after ratification by the two countries’ legislatures.

A bilateral goods and trade agreement took effect June 1, 2007, and another on the service sector did so May 1 this year.

President Lee and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva also held talks yesterday on raising bilateral ties. They agreed that Pyongyang`s second nuclear test ran counter to international efforts to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and seriously undermined peace and stability in East Asia and the world.

Abhisit said, “The upcoming ASEAN Regional Forum will discuss the North Korean nuclear issue.”

President Lee urged the Thai leader to “actively cooperate for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula at the ASEAN level.”

President Lee also held an earlier summit Saturday with Philippine President Gloria Arroyo at the presidential office in Seoul, where urged North Korea to promptly follow a U.N. Security Council resolution and return to the six-party talks. The two leaders also agreed to closely cooperate to ensure a peaceful resolution of North Korea’s nuclear crisis.

yongari@donga.com leon@donga.com