Asean welcomes peace efforts in Korean peninsula: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Inter-Korean Summit "supports steps to decrease tensions and improve inter-Korean relations, and it will contribute to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region".
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Inter-Korean Summit "supports steps to decrease tensions and improve inter-Korean relations, and it will contribute to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region". ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday said Asean will continue to support efforts to secure the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner, and that the grouping welcomed the historic summit between leaders of North and South Korea.

Denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula was one of several regional developments which leaders discussed at the 32nd Asean Summit hosted by Singapore, which is chairing Asean this year.

At the summit and related meetings over the past two days, the leaders adopted concrete proposals on how Asean can be resilient against threats like cyber attacks, and be innovative in its use of technology to grow its economies.

The leaders signed off on a statement to boost cyber security across the region, and agreed on Singapore's proposal to set up a network of 26 smart cities across Asean. They also discussed the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, among other issues.

In his remarks at the opening ceremony of the summit, Mr Lee had highlighted the need for Asean to speak in a collective voice to be effective as it reacts to major external trends, such as growing protectionism and trade tensions between the United States and China.

Asean leaders voiced their deep concern over the rising tide of protectionism and anti-globalisation sentiment in a chairman's statement released yesterday, and reiterated their continued support for a multilateral trading system. The 10 member states reaffirmed their commitment to improve Asean's free trade pacts and deepen engagement with the grouping's trading partners.

The leaders added they have instructed ministers and officials to "exert all efforts" to resolve outstanding issues over the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, to encourage the swift conclusion of negotiations over the 16-nation free trade deal.

Summing up these efforts in the works at a press conference, Mr Lee said: "Over all, I'm pleased that we have completed a promising and productive first lap in Singapore's Asean chairmanship."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 29, 2018, with the headline 'Asean welcomes peace efforts in Korean peninsula: PM Lee'. Print Edition | Subscribe