Phnom Penh (VNA) – The 2st ASEAN-the Republic of Korea (RoK) Dialogue took place in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province on June 22-23.

The dialogue aimed to discuss cooperation between the two sides and prepare for the ASEAN-RoK Ministers Meeting slated for August and the 19th ASEAN-RoK Summit in November. 

Delegates at the event affirmed the significance of the ASEAN-RoK strategic partnership to development of each side as well as peace, stability, prosperity and connectivity in East Asia. 

With the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015 and rapid economic growth rate in recent years, ASEAN has become the RoK’s second largest trade partner, they said. 

Through such frameworks as the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the Action Plan during 2016-2020, the two sides set to raise their trade value to 200 billion USD by 2020. 

RoK Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Jeong-kyo said that the new Korean administration continues to attach importance to ASEAN and support the ten-member group in promoting its central role in regional cooperation and connectivity. 

The RoK pledges to continue participating in and making active contributions to major ASEAN forums like the East-Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM ) and the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF). 

At the dialogue, ASEAN countries noted their wish that the RoK will expand its investment and business in the ASEAN market and support their micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises. 

The two sides also discussed measures to promote the exchange of culture, tourism and education. 

To mark 2017 as the year of ASEAN-RoK cultural cooperation, the RoK side is speeding up the construction of the ASEAN Culture House in Busan city, which is expected to be completed in September. 

At the same time, the RoK will increase exchange programmes with ASEAN youths and grant more scholarships to the bloc’s member countries. 

The two sides compared notes on hot security zones and non-traditional challenges. Regarding the Korean peninsula situation, the ASEAN nations reiterated the viewpoints shared by ASEAN ministers at a statement issued on April 28, 2017. 

Expressing their concerns over the recent escalating tensions, the countries called on parties concerned to seriously implement resolutions of the UN Security Council and seek peaceful measures through dialogue and cooperation towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Talking about the East Sea issue, the RoK side showed its support for ASEAN’s stance and stressed the need to maintain peace, stability, security, maritime and aviation safety and freedom in the sea, respect international law, address disputes peacefully, conduct no militarisation and soon reach a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

The two sides pledged to continue cooperation in coping with terrorism, trans-national crimes, human and drug trafficking, and disease prevention. The RoK side said it will continue helping the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA) enhance its capacity in carrying out projects.

Speaking at the dialogue, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung, head of ASEAN SOM Vietnam, affirmed that Vietnam and other ASEAN nations wish to promote multi-faceted cooperation with the RoK, which is not only a strategic partner of the bloc but also one of the strong member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Group 20 (G20) with an important role and voice in regional and global issues.

The RoK and ASEAN hold enough conditions to become bridges for closer connections between the Northeast and Southeast Asian regions, he said.

In addition to road and seaway connections, the Deputy FM suggested the two sides soon complete the ASEAN-Korea Air Transport Agreement to further facilitate their investment, tourism and people-to-people exchange activities.

Vietnam is willing to coordinate with the RoK side in organising forums and events to promote ASEAN-RoK cooperation and will contribute its outstanding cultural products for display at the ASEAN Cultural House in the RoK, Dung noted.

According to him, as ASEAN and the RoK share a common goal of maintaining peace and stability in East Asia, they should join hands to foster a rule-based regional order, and support the central role and efforts of ASEAN in dealing with regional security challenges.

Regarding the East Sea issue, the Vietnamese official reiterated Vietnam’s stance and wished other countries, including the RoK, to continue backing the peaceful settlement of disputes in respect for international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, legal and diplomatic processes, as well as the serious implementation of the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the practical building of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

About non-traditional security challenges, besides maritime security, cyber security and transnational crimes, Dung stressed the need for collaboration in ensuring water, energy and food security.

He applauded the RoK’s support for countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region to strengthen the sustainable management and use of the Mekong River water resources.-VNA