South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday called for stepped-up efforts to form a regional community among Southeast Asian countries and three Northeast Asian nations including China and Japan, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.
Last month, South Korea and China agreed to end a year-long standoff over THAAD which had seen South Korean companies doing business in China suffer from retaliation against the system's deployment. On Nov. 11, President Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a bilateral meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, where they attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (AEPC) forum.
On his back-to-back talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang Mr. Moon admitted that the THAAD issue isn't completely resolved between the two countries. The volume of bilateral trade between the two regions totals US$118.8 billion a year, South Korea's annual trade surplus with ASEAN member countries totals US$30.2 billion, and South Korea's investment in the ASEAN region totals US$5.1 billion a year. "I totally feel the same way", he said.
Moon reiterated his stance that now was the time to increase pressure on North Korea so that it would come to talks. When it comes to economic matters, Moon called for a resolution of specific problems faced by South Korean companies due to the THAAD conflict in areas such as tourism and exchange, auto battery subsidies, and anti-dumping import regulations. Moon's announcement, made on a state visit to Indonesia, came amid a flurry of diplomatic activity in the region ahead of the latest ASEAN summit in the Philippines and U.S. President Donald Trump's trip to Asia.
The ASEAN leaders expressed full support for a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue, noting it posed a great threat not only to the region but the entire world. Regarded as a detailed roadmap for his New Southbound Policy, the initiative is to strengthen the partnership between the two regions to a level comparable to South Korea's relations with the United States, China, Japan and Russian Federation by 2022.
Xi urged South Korea to take a "responsible attitude on THAAD that stands the test of history", Xinhua said. "The discussion will continue during the South Korea-China summit in December".
"Once we enter the dialogue phase, we may be able to discuss while leaving all possibilities open", he said. In regard to participating in the Free and Open Indo-Pacific security system mentioned by US President Donald Trump during his summit with Moon on November 7, Moon said, "That was the first time I'd heard that proposal".
"Since both countries are interested in innovative growth in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, I hope we cooperate together through Singapore's Smart Nation Initiative' and more".