The Strategy Behind South Korea's Outreach to Southeast Asia

The Strategy Behind South Korea's Outreach to Southeast Asia

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Tuesday it would not be easy for North Korea to completely destroy its nuclear weapons in a short time considering the state of its arsenal.

"Bringing South Korea's relationship with ASEAN to the level of its relationship with the four major powers around the Korean Peninsula is my goal", Moon said in a bilateral summit with his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo on Thursday, referring to the United States, Japan, China and Russian Federation.

The two leaders will both attend the APEC summit of Asia Pacific leaders in Vietnam's central city of Danang. "I totally feel the same way", he said. Once the reporters left the room, the two leaders spoke for 50 minutes on issues such as the restoration of South Korea-China relations, urgent economic matters and the North Korean nuclear program.

"I believe today's meeting can offer an important opportunity for us in the development of the bilateral relationship, bilateral cooperation in regard to the Korean Peninsula issues and in exercising leadership in the future", he said.

"President Moon stressed the need to further develop the ASEAN Plus Three, which helps protect the lives of people in the region, noting the countries' cooperation played a pivotal role in successfully overcoming the 1997 Asian financial crisis", the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.

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Turning to North Korean issues, Moon asked the ASEAN countries and the two Northeast Asian nations to help peacefully end the nuclear standoff, stressing the need to maintain maximum pressure and sanctions against the North.

The sabre-rattling has complicated China's relations with South Korea. So, the agreement has been made and reconfirmed at the highest levels between Seoul and Beijing. When it comes to economic matters, Moon called for a resolution of specific problems faced by South Korean companies due to the THAAD conflict in areas such as tourism and exchange, vehicle battery subsidies, and anti-dumping import regulations.

"There are signs of cooperation and improving relations between China, South Korea and Japan". In regard to participating in the Free and Open Indo-Pacific security system mentioned by US President Donald Trump during his summit with Moon on November 7, Moon said, "That was the first time I'd heard that proposal".

"Prime Minister Medvedev said his country was willing to work closely with the South Korean side for the Korea-EAEU FTA", Yoon said in a press release, adding the Russian prime minister also expressed hope for increased cooperation between the two countries in the fishery and agriculture sectors.

Trump held talks with Xi on Thursday, which led to the signing of business deals worth more than US$253 billion.