Posted : 2013-10-07 10:18
Updated : 2013-10-07 10:18

President Park to meet with Xi Jinping at APEC

President Park Geun-hye was to pitch for freer trade in an annual summit of Pacific Rim economies opening in this Indonesian resort island on Monday while holding a series of one-on-one meetings, including one with Chinese President Xi Jinping, on its sidelines.

Park arrived in Bali the previous day for this year's meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, a grouping of 21 economies, spanning from Southeast Asia to North and South Americas, which account for 58 percent of global gross domestic product and 49 percent of world trade.

On Sunday, Park attended a meeting of Asia-Pacific business leaders and appealed to them to aggressively pursue innovation, stressing that the lack of innovation is causing a delay in the global economic recovery and that innovation is the only fundamental way to bring vitality to the world economy.

She also championed her trademark "creative economy" vision that calls for boosting South Korea's economy by creating unheard-of business opportunities and more jobs through the fusion of information technology, culture and other industries.

On Monday and Tuesday, Park is scheduled to attend the main APEC summit.

Officials said she plans to call for international cooperation to make progress in long-stalled world trade talks known as the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), put forward ways to increase connectivity among member economies and make a commitment to sustainable growth.

This year's APEC summit was overshadowed by the absence of U.S. President Barack Obama. The American president called off his trip to Asia after a budget impasse in Congress led to the partial shutdown of his government.

Secretary of State John Kerry stands in for Obama in APEC and other Asia meetings.

APEC was formed in 1989 in response to growing regionalism in other parts of the globe. Since 1993, the heads of state from member countries have met annually, and the summit has provided opportunities for bilateral talks among leaders on its margins.

On Monday, Park was also to meet bilaterally with Xi and other leaders.

The Park-Xi meeting is expected to take up key issues like the standoff over North Korea's nuclear program. The two leaders could also talk about Japan seeking such nationalistic agenda as the right to "collective self-defense," a move seen as a precursor to ultimately amending the country's pacifist constitution.

Park was also scheduled to hold one-on-one talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Bali is the first of three stops in Park's two-nation trip to Southeast Asia that will also take her later this week to Brunei for a trio of annual summits led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and then to Jakarta for a state visit.

Park has termed the visit to Southeast Asia as a second "sales diplomacy" trip, after a similar business-oriented visit to Vietnam last month during which the two countries agreed to conclude bilateral free trade talks next year and cooperate closely in Vietnam's plan to build nuclear power plants.

ASEAN has emerged as an increasingly important region to South Korea, with a combined population of 600 million and its GDP totaling about US$2.3 trillion. The region is South Korea's No. 1 investment destination and its second-largest trade partner, with two-way trade amounting to $131 billion last year.

The region is also the second-largest construction market for South Korea, with last year's construction orders from the region totaling $11 billion. (Yonhap)

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