Korea, ASEAN to hold security dialogue starting next year
President Park put great emphasis on the ASEAN region as a "very important strategic partner."
"I hope we can visit one another's country more often so that Korea and ASEAN can expand exchanges in various sectors, whether they be political, diplomatic, economic or cultural."
The president is known to have put forth "shared peace, prosperity and progress" as the three major pillars or goals in Korea-ASEAN relations, which represents an expansion from the original focus, which was mainly on economic cooperation.
Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Kyung-soo told reporters that the two sides had agreed to set up a Korea-ASEAN security dialogue at a deputy ministerial level, as first proposed by President Park.
The first meeting is expected to take place some time next year.
Korea would be the first individual country to hold such talks with ASEAN.
Government officials in Seoul expect the dialogue to serve as an opportunity to discuss the North Korean issue regularly behind closed doors with Southeast Asian countries, and secure support for its North Korea policy in the region.
Korea and ASEAN also saw eye-to-eye on the need to upgrade its free trade agreement by the year 2015.
The trade pact took effect back in 2009, and once it is upgraded as the two sides plan, bilateral trade volume is expected to jump to 300 billion U.S. dollars by 2025 from the current 130 billion dollars.
And to strengthen cooperation in the cultural sector, President Park pledged to increase the number of Korean cultural centers in the ASEAN region.
"On Thursday, her last day here in Brunei, President Park will attend the ASEAN-plus-three and East Asia summits, where she will seek to solidify Korea's strategic relationship with ASEAN member countries at a time when major powers like China, Japan and the U.S. are jockeying for greater influence.
Eoh Jin-joo, Arirang News, Bandar Seri Begawan."
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