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S. Korea, ASEAN agree to strengthen ties, security cooperation

Posted in Ásia & Oceania, Regiões, Segurança Nacional & Defesa by Ariel Boldrini on 02/06/2009

Coreia do Sul – Yonhap News – 02/06/2009

S. Korea, ASEAN agree to strengthen ties, security cooperation

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and leaders of Southeast Asian countries agreed Tuesday to increase economic cooperation and expand ties to include security and other global issues while condemning North Korea for its latest nuclear test. 

The agreement was put in a joint statement issued at the end of a two-day summit between Korea and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held here.

“We expressed our expectations that the trade volume between ASEAN and the Republic of Korea will increase to US$150 billion by 2015 through the ASEAN-ROK free trade agreement (FTA) and other complementary trade arrangements,” the statement said, referring to South Korea by its official name.

South Korea and ASEAN signed an investment treaty here earlier Tuesday. They have already enacted trade agreements on goods and services.

To further boost trade, investment and tourism exchanges, the leaders agreed to begin discussions for an agreement on air services by early 2010 that will lead to freer transportation of both passengers and air freight, according to the 40-point statement.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, prime minister of Thailand who is currently serving as the rotating chairman of ASEAN, said the conclusion of Korea-ASEAN FTA and the joint statement were a testimony to “vibrant and dynamic cooperation” between the two sides. This week’s special summit on this southern resort island marked the 20th anniversary of dialogue partnership between Korea and ASEAN.

Economic cooperation between South Korea and ASEAN states has increased significantly over the past few years, with trade volume nearly doubling from $46 billion in 2004 to over $90 billion last year.

Abhisit said the countries must now widen their cooperation to other areas, including people to people exchanges.

“We’ve completed the FTA, but it will have to be the private sector that takes on the opportunity. And we know that trade and investment will grow only if people become closer,” he said in a joint press conference with the South Korean president.

Lee said his country will work closely with ASEAN states to improve their ties in all areas, including economic, cultural and security issues.

“ASEAN is currently one of the three largest markets in the world, following China and the European Union, but in 2015, I think ASEAN will have become a more important and advanced market than the EU,” Lee told the press conference.

This week’s meeting was held as the countries were also looking for ways to form a joint front against the global economic downturn that has cut deeply into the region’s economies.

The leaders agreed to assist in creating “more and better jobs,” saying job creation is the best welfare mechanism in overcoming economic challenges.

South Korea also agreed to continue its support for the Southeast Asian nations in narrowing the digital divide by providing advanced information and communication technology, the statement said.

North Korea was placed high on the agenda at the special summit, as the leaders noted peace and security on the Korean Peninsula was “essential” for the security of the region.

“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,” the joint statement said.

In a separate press statement also issued Tuesday, the leaders said the North’s recent nuclear test constituted a “clear violation” of its denuclearization agreements reached in six-nation talks and relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Lee Dong-kwan, spokesman for South Korea’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, said the joint statements marked a success for Seoul’s diplomatic efforts, noting the ASEAN countries have long maintained close relations with the North.

“As a result of this special summit, relations between South Korea and ASEAN countries that had remained until now as economic ties have developed into a full cooperative relationship that includes cooperation on foreign and security issues,” Lee told reporters.

North Korea said on May 25 that it successfully conducted an underground nuclear explosion, the country’s second atomic test following its 2006 detonation of a nuclear device.

The special summit was attended by the South Korean president and the leaders of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Disponível: Acesso em: 02/06/2009

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