First of all, I would like to offer my deepest appreciation and respect to President Estrada for all the efforts in successfully preparing for this meeting.
I am delighted to see President Wahid of Indonesia and Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia join us for the first time. With Cambodia’s entry in April, this is the year ASEAN has realized its dream of “ASEAN 10″.
ASEAN has been a major force for stability and economic prosperity in Southeast Asia. Now that it represents all ten countries of the region, I expect ASEAN to make even greater achievements for the region’s dynamic growth and peace. Furthermore, I have every confidence that it will greatly contribute to peace and prosperity in the larger Asia-Pacific, and indeed the international community.
I hope in our gathering today will prove to be a occasion to explore future oriented cooperation that is beneficial to all, so that we will all be able to share a common vision of Asian cooperation for Asia.
Korea’s ties to ASEAN, which began in 1989, have greatly expanded through exchanges and cooperation in
Last year, Korea’s trade with ASEAN countries reached 24.4 billion dollars, making ASEAN Korea’s No.4 trading partners and No. 3 investment destination.
In 1998 alone, 430,OOO citizens of ASEAN countries came to visit Korea, and 380,000 Koreans reciprocated. With economic recovery in the region, the people-to-people exchanges are likely to become even more active in the coming years.
The economic crisis that struck East Asia in 1997 made us keenly aware how close Korea and ASEAN are to each other. It also underscored the need for greater cooperation in the region. Thus, Korea is doing its best to strengthen its ties with ASEAN in political affairs, economic cooperation, security matters, cultural exchanges, and other areas.
Korea sees ASEAN countries as important cooperation partners. Thus, we, have continued to provide grants to them, in the amount of 6.95 million dollars this year.
Furthermore, as of the end of October this year, we have pledged loans from our Economic Development and Cooperation Fund to 21 projects and 4 countries. totaling 356 million dollars, which is 27% of all of our EDCF loans to date.
Korea also maintains its donation of an annual 2 million dollars to the Korea-ASEAN special cooperation fund. The fund will be utilized mainly for the Implementation of the Hanoi Plan of Action.
We also place much importance on Korea-ASEAN cooperation in the security field. Korea has been an active participant in the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Meeting and the ASEAN Regional Forum, and has thus shared in the efforts to strengthen peace and stability in the region.
In particular, with the understanding that security on the Korean peninsula is directly related to security in the Asia-Pacific, we are trying to engage North Korea to strengthen peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. I thank ASEAN for its active support in this regard, and I count on your continued support.
I hope that our meeting today serves to take the Korea-ASEAN partnership to a higher level for the, new century. Thank you.