S'pore, S. Korea ties maintained positive momentum through pandemic: President Halimah

President Halimah Yacob with her South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in at the Blue House in Seoul on May 9, 2022. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

SEOUL - Singapore President Halimah Yacob and South Korea's outgoing President Moon Jae-in have reaffirmed bilateral ties while exchanging views on international issues.

The two leaders met on Monday (May 9) afternoon in the presidential Blue House in central Seoul, where Madam Halimah will attend the inauguration ceremony of Mr Moon's successor Yoon Suk-yeol, who will be sworn in on Tuesday.

During Madam Halimah's meeting with Mr Moon, the two leaders noted that the "warm and longstanding" relations between the two countries "maintained a positive momentum" even during the Covid-19 pandemic, said the Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

In a Facebook post on Monday, Madam Halimah said she was "glad for the opportunity to catch up" with Mr Moon, whom she last met in 2018 in Singapore when he was here for a state visit.

"I thanked President Moon for his support in strengthening Singapore-ROK relations during his term in office," she wrote, referring to the Republic of Korea, the official name for South Korea.

According to the Blue House, Mr Moon said he was "very happy" to meet Madam Halimah again.

He thanked her for hosting his visit to Singapore and said he was glad to have worked with her to "greatly develop" South Korea's ties with Singapore and South-east Asia during his five-year term.

He stressed that the two countries collaborated best in economic fields such as trade and investment, and hoped that bilateral cooperation can be further expanded through multilateral agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Mr Moon also voiced hopes there will be more active people-to-people exchanges between the two sides in the future, the Blue House said.

The two leaders were also "pleased that negotiations on the Korea-Singapore Digital Partnership Agreement concluded last year and they looked forward to the early signing" of the deal, MFA said.

The agreement will serve to deepen cooperation between the two countries in areas related to the digital economy, such as e-payment and personal information protection.

It will also establish trade rules and norms to allow data to flow seamlessly across borders and create a secure digital environment for businesses.

Madam Halimah also welcomed South Korea's efforts to strengthen cooperation with the Asean, which she said "made good progress" under Mr Moon's New Southern Policy Plus aimed at diversifying South Korea's diplomacy.

The two leaders agreed that South Korea and Asean should cooperate closely in areas such as healthcare, education, digital economy, green technology and people-to-people exchanges.

They also exchanged views on regional and international issues, including the situation on the Korean peninsula.

Mr Moon asked for continued interest and support from countries including Singapore, so as to nudge North Korea back to dialogue and diplomacy, which he said is the "fundamental solution for North Korea's nuclear issue". 

Madam Halimah said: "Singapore will continue to work with the international community to promote peace and stability in the Korean peninsula."

She also wished Mr Moon "the best in his future endeavours".

Madam Halimah arrived in Seoul on Monday morning. She is slated to have a bilateral meeting with Mr Yoon in his new office on Tuesday, after his inauguration.

She will also attend a banquet dinner hosted by him for foreign guests, such as United States Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, Chinese Vice-President Wang Qishan and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.

President Halimah will depart for Singapore on Wednesday.

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