Diplomacy at Forefront to Realize Global Korea
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Since the launch of the new administration a year ago, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been undertaking a ``creative and pragmatic'' approach in our diplomatic efforts to realize our vision of becoming a truly ``Global Korea.''
We are glad to note that we have achieved notable outcomes during the past year. Above all, through active summit diplomacy, we have enhanced our bilateral relations with our neighboring countries, and further strengthened our friendly and cooperative relations with countries throughout the world.
Korea reached common ground with the U.S. to further develop the ROK-U.S. alliance into a ``21st Century Strategic Alliance,'' and with Japan to build a ``Future Oriented Mature Partnership.'' We also established
These efforts have been highly fruitful in terms of building a solid framework for strategic cooperation with our four neighboring countries.
Furthermore, Korea has promoted the ``New Asia Cooperative Diplomacy'' with Asian countries including ASEAN.
The government also expanded cooperation in the field of natural resources and energy with countries in Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
Korea has also exerted sincere efforts to lay the groundwork to expand on our global ``network diplomacy,'' for example by developing our relationship with the EU into a more comprehensive partnership.
Korea also actively took part in the discussions at the international arena by making our presence be felt in the G8 Toyako summit in July and the G20 Washington summit in November, and at other major multilateral gatherings, including the ASEM and APEC summits in October and November, respectively.
Last year, the foreign ministry concentrated on establishing the foreign policy framework of the new administration. This year, we will fine-tune our foreign policy objectives with a view to further advancing our diplomacy in key areas.
Namely, the ministry has set three priority tasks this year to respond to the changes in our diplomatic environment. They are: first, revitalizing the economy, second, further developing the ROK-U.S. Strategic Alliance, and third, making substantial progress in the North Korean nuclear issue.
Revitalizing the Economy
First, and foremost, the ministry will exert utmost diplomatic efforts to revitalize our economy, endeavoring to alleviate the difficulties faced by our people in the economic turmoil.
In this vein, we will actively participate in international discussions such as at the G20 London financial summit in April, and continue to work closely with major economies to prevent trade protectionism as well.
We will step up promotional campaigns to enhance our international credit standing, and expand our participation in international financial institutions.
Furthermore, we will concentrate on the early conclusion and ratification of the FTAs with the U.S., the EU, and India, and actively participate in international efforts for an early conclusion of the DDA negotiations, all of which will pave the way for the expansion of our trade in the future.
As such, assisting in the efforts to overcome the economic crisis will be a top priority for us.
Further Developing ROK-US Strategic Alliance
Secondly, with the launch of the new U.S. administration, the ministry will step up efforts to further enhance the ROK-U.S. Strategic Alliance.
The recent visit to Korea by Secretary Clinton provided a valuable opportunity for in-depth discussions on matters of mutual interest including the development of the ROK-U.S. alliance and the North Korean nuclear issue.
Through close consultations with the new Obama administration, we will endeavor to further develop the ROK-U.S. alliance, not only in the realm of security, but in the political, social, cultural and economic fields as well.
And, Korea and the U.S. will work closely together in pursuing alliance readjustments, such as relocation projects. Based on our robust security posture, I have every confidence that the two nations can make smooth progress in developing the alliance into a ``Strategic Alliance for the 21st Century.''
Substantial Progress in N. Korean Nuclear Issue
Thirdly, the ministry will continue to strive to make substantial progress in the North Korean nuclear issue. Last year came to an end without an agreement on a Verification Protocol at the six-party talks held in December.
Accordingly, this year we are faced with the task of completing the second phase of denuclearization and embarking on the third phase.
With the goal of making substantial progress toward denuclearization, including the setting up of a verification mechanism, Korea will strengthen cooperation and coordination with the other members of the six-party talks.
In particular, we will consult closely with the new U.S. administration to come up with both a short-term and a longer-term macro strategy to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.
We have emphasized that developments will be made in inter-Korean relations according to progress made on the denuclearization of North Korea, based on the principle of ``mutual benefits and common prosperity.''
In this way, efforts will be made to ensure that the North Korean nuclear issue and inter-Korean relations will progress side by side in a positive direction.
However, the harsh rhetoric and recent actions on the part of the North to escalate tensions, is definitely not helpful for anyone. We seriously urge the North to stop its useless denouncements and provocative actions and come back to the dialogue table without pre-conditions.
Realization of a Truly Global Korea
While focusing on the three priority tasks above, the ministry will continue to strive to become an ``advanced and globally prestigious country" in other areas of interest as well.
We will seek to establish a global network for cooperation with the greater international community. With the establishment of the Korea-Arab Society last year and the opening of the ASEAN-Korea Center next month, we are seeking to forge bonds of mutual cooperation with nations in ASEAN and the Middle East.
In particular, we are exerting utmost efforts to ensure the successful hosting of the ASEAN-Korea commemorative summit on Jeju Island this June. Hence, we will continue to reach out to more countries and further enhance our cooperative relations with them.
We will spare no efforts in creating a new engine for sustained growth. We will focus on expanding our FTA networks, and strengthening natural resources and energy cooperation and in particular, building international consensus for our policy of ``Low Carbon, Green Growth.''
In this regard, we will be holding the ``East Asia Climate Forum'' slated for May this year here in Seoul, with plans to present a model of ``Low Carbon, Green Growth'' applicable to developing countries.
The more recently pronounced ``Green New Deal'' also aims to promote eco-friendly growth in order to ensure sustainable development. And, of course we will actively take part in the U.N. climate change negotiations as well.
Also, commensurate with our economic capacity, we will seek to enhance our role and standing as a responsible member of the international community. As a part of such efforts, we plan to increase participation in international organizations, for example by making a bid to serve as a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2013.
And, we plan to join the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) by the year 2010 to further advance our ODA system. We also have plans to gradually expand our PKO deployment as well. Having hosted the first Senior Officials Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Democracy Partnership (APDP) in Seoul last October, we will continue to play a constructive role in the international efforts to promote human rights and democracy.
Furthermore, Korea will continue to engage in cultural exchanges through the hosting of cultural events, facilitating people-to-people exchanges and supporting the so-called Korean wave by assisting in the promotion of popular Korean movies, dramas, and music overseas.
Last but not least, the ministry will improve the quality of consular services by establishing the online tourist registration service and the public-private cooperative body to enhance the safety of Korean nationals abroad.
Also, the ministry will continue to facilitate simpler visa arrangements with other countries for the convenience of Koreans traveling abroad. As such, we will exert our utmost efforts to ensure that our diplomacy has a tangible impact on improving the lives of the general public.
Toward a Brighter Future
The global financial crisis has affected every corner of the world, and we are feeling its impact on our daily lives. It serves to illustrate only too clearly that a single nation cannot meet the challenges of this increasingly globalizing world. It is only through concerted global actions that we can effectively take on issues of such a magnitude.
Henceforth, in living up to our aims of becoming a truly ``Global Korea,'' we will endeavor to play a proactive role in the global efforts to transform the challenges ahead into new opportunities.
Displaying vision and courage, Korea stands ready to play a greater role as a responsible member of the international community. In this process, we look forward to your continued interest and support throughout this year and beyond.