South Korean President Moon Jae-in will hold a summit with the leaders of 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries in November, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also possibly in attendance, Moon’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Monday.
The special South Korea-ASEAN summit will be held in South Korea’s port city of Busan, 450 kilometers south of Seoul, on Nov. 25-26. It will mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the dialogue relationship between South Korea and ASEAN.
“As the largest international conference to be held in our country since the launch of the incumbent administration, the summit is expected to review the development of South Korea-ASEAN relations over the past 30 years and suggest a new vision for development in the next 30 years,” Yoon Do-han, the senior secretary to the president for public relations, told a press briefing.
A Cheong Wa Dae official later said the two-day summit in Busan may also involve the North Korean leader, noting some ASEAN countries have already proposed inviting Kim to the rare occasion.
“The country will begin consultations with ASEAN countries based on such proposal, and depending on the outcome of their consultations, the country may invite Chairman Kim Jong-un,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
Moon has often highlighted the importance of ASEAN countries in efforts to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, noting all 10 ASEAN member states have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang.
Moon and Kim have held three bilateral summits, with their latest meeting held in Pyongyang in September.
Kim has promised to visit South Korea for their fourth bilateral summit.
The 10-member ASEAN is also at the center of Moon’s New Southern Policy that seeks to boost South Korea’s economic and diplomatic ties with Southeast Asian countries, including India.
The ASEAN countries already make up South Korea’s second-largest trade partner, with bilateral trade between the country and the 10 ASEAN countries reaching a record high of US$160 billion in 2018.
Seoul seeks to increase the two-way trade with ASEAN to $200 billion by 2020.
The South Korea-ASEAN summit will be followed by a separate meeting on Nov. 27, involving the leaders of five ASEAN countries located around the Mekong River that are also the fastest growing economies in the region, according to Yoon.
The five Mekong countries are Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. (Yonhap)