PM Lee to attend Asean-Republic of Korea commemorative summit meeting in Busan

Securtiy personnel stand outside BEXCO, a convention and exhibition centre, in Busan, South Korea, in preparation for the Asean-ROK Summit happening between Dec 11-12. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong leaves for South Korea on Wednesday to the sum
Securtiy personnel stand outside BEXCO, a convention and exhibition centre, in Busan, South Korea, in preparation for the Asean-ROK Summit happening between Dec 11-12. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong leaves for South Korea on Wednesday to the summit. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

BUSAN (South Korea) - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong leaves on Wednesday to attend Asean-Republic of Korea (ROK) Commemorative Summit.

The two-day gathering, which starts here on Thursday, is to mark 25 years of relations between the grouping and South Korea.

Mr Lee, along with the nine other Asean leaders and South Korean President Park Geun Hye, will take stock of cooperation and discuss the future direction of relations, said a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

At their meeting, the leaders will also exchange views on international and regional issues of common concern.

These could include the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

The summit's organisers said in a media statement here on Tuesday that the meeting would be "an opportunity to bolster the strategic partnership between Asean and Korea".

Besides the formal leaders' summit, related meetings and events being held at the same time include those on environmental issues, public governance and economic cooperation.

Bilateral trade between South Korea and the group of 10 South-east Asian nations has grown since the dialogue partnership started in 1989. As of last year , it had reached US$135 billion (S$178 billion).

Asean is South Korea's second biggest trade partner, while South Korea is the grouping's fifth largest trade partner.

In 2010, relations were upgraded from a comprehensive cooperation partnership to a strategic partnership, in a move to strengthen economic and political ties as well as promote cultural exchange.

Apart from the summit meeting, Mr Lee will meet Ms Park for bilateral talks on Thursday. Before that, he will meet with Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon in the South Korean capital, where he will also be briefed on transport management, reforms and policies by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and The Seoul Institute.

Mr Lee will be accompanied by his wife, Ms Ho Ching, as well as senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

During his absence, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean will be the Acting Prime Minister.