South Korea's New Southern Policy marks its strong commitment to prosper together with Asean, President Moon Jae-in said as he invited leaders of South-east Asian nations to special summits that his country plans to host next year.
This is because 2019 marks 30 years of dialogue relations between Asean and South Korea, he said yesterday in his opening remarks at the Asean-Republic of Korea Summit at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The New Southern Policy aims to reduce South Korea's reliance on the United States, China, Japan and Russia by expanding ties with South-east Asian countries and India.
Next year, South Korea is expected to host a Korea-Asean summit as well as the first Korea-Mekong summit - a meeting of leaders of South Korea and the Mekong River countries of Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand.
Yesterday, the South Korean President added that he has set up a presidential committee to realise the country's vision, creating a comprehensive blueprint for its strategies.
Recent efforts have seen some results, he noted, with its bilateral trade volume with Asean rising 6 per cent to US$120 billion (S$166 billion) in the first nine months of the year, compared with the same period last year.
In his opening remarks to President Moon, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted the importance of upgrading the Asean-Republic of Korea Free Trade Area, establishing an Asean-Korea Air Services Agreement and cooperating through the Asean Smart Cities Network.
Noting that Asean and South Korea have robust economic ties, PM Lee added that South Korea is the region's fifth-largest trading partner. Both sides aim to reach a trade volume of US$200 billion by 2020.
At the summit, PM Lee also said that the maintenance of peace and security is critical to the region's prosperity.
"Singapore welcomes the positive developments brought about in the inter-Korean summits and the US-DPRK Summit this year," he said, referring to the South Korea and US meetings with North Korea.
"We urge all parties concerned to continue working towards the realisation of lasting peace and stability on a denuclearised Korean peninsula."