Korea, ASEAN Partnership Broadened to Security
By Na Jeong-ju
SEOGWIPO, Jeju Island _ President Lee Myung-bak and the leaders of the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed Tuesday to strengthen cooperation on regional security and political issues.
The agreement, signed at the end of the ASEAN-Korea Commemorative Summit here, signals an extension of the partnership between the two sides not only in the economic fields, but also in the area of security, including North Korea's nuclear and missile tests.
``We recognized that enhanced peace and security on the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and cooperation is essential for the peace, security and stability of the region,'' said the joint statement. ``To this end, we are committed to continue our efforts to reduce tension and promote dialogue on the peninsula," including those to achieve an early resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue in a peaceful manner through the six-party talks.
The statement also noted Korea and ASEAN agreed to address issues regarding terrorism, sea piracy, illicit drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering, arms smuggling, international economic crime and cyber crime.
The move reflects expectations that Korea's relations with ASEAN, established two decades ago, should enter a new phase of cooperation and partnership to increase Asia's role in addressing global issues.
``The summit agenda included a wide range of issues. We discussed North Korea, the global economic crisis, Asia's financial integration, infrastructure development, climate change, cultural exchanges and so on,'' President Lee said in a joint press conference, following the summit. ``We've found we share common interests on various issues and agreed to actively raise our voices based on relations of mutual respect and trust.''
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva hoped Korea and ASEAN will further boost partnership on economy, regional security matters as well as climate change, saying the summit was a good opportunity to move their relations forward.
ASEAN's move to address the North Korean nuclear issue paves the way for the economic bloc to evolve into a more powerful regional body that also addresses security and political concerns, officials here said.
``Until recently, ASEAN had maintained close relations with North Korea. However, it decided to deal with its nuclear provocation,'' presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said. ``It is not only a diplomatic achievement for South Korea, but also an indication that the two sides will cooperate on diplomatic and security matters, not just economic affairs.''
The leaders also agreed to increase the trade volume between Korea and ASEAN to $150 billion by 2015 from $90 billion in 2008 through bilateral free trade agreements and cultural exchanges.
Korea pledged to increase its contribution to underdeveloped ASEAN member states to help accelerate their economic development and address poverty and social issues. To share the experience of rapid economic growth and technological advance, the country will invite 7,000 trainees from ASEAN over the next seven years.
The two sides also agreed to promote close cooperation on climate change, undertaking cooperative projects and studies on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing environmentally friendly technology.