Korean Ambassador to ASEAN highly values Vietnam’s leadership in face of COVID-19 hinh anh 1Korean Ambassador to ASEAN Lim Sungnam gives an interview to the Vietnam News Agency (Photo: VNA)

Jakarta (VNA) – The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea (RoK) to ASEAN, Lim Sungnam, has appreciated Vietnam’s cohesive and responsive leadership in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic as Chair of ASEAN in 2020.

The ambassador granted an interview to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA)'s reporter in Jakarta following the ASEAN-RoK Ministerial Meeting, the ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, all held virtually this week.

Talking about the outcomes of these events, he said in terms of efforts to deal with COVID-19, ASEAN has been very inventive under the leadership of Vietnam to promote the ideas, such as the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund, the stockpile of medical supplies, as well as the Standard Operating Procedures for public health emergencies. 

He expressed his delight that all the participating countries agreed upon the importance of these projects, and they will be working together to continue to deal with the COVID-19 down the road. 

Regarding economic measures, ASEAN reconfirmed the importance of an ASEAN economic recovery plan which will be reported to the leaders this November, Lim said, adding that ASEAN and dialogue partners, including the RoK, will work together for the rapid economic recovery of ASEAN in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He noted the RoK very much appreciates the support of the ASEAN foreign ministers for the need to expedite the essential travel, in particular by business people, because without expeditious business travellers and trips, not just within ASEAN but also between ASEAN and the dialogue partners, it is almost impossible to have the rapid economic recovery.

According to the diplomat, the meetings was also a useful and timely opportunity to have wide-ranging discussions on a variety of peace and security issues, including non-traditional security issues like terrorism, cyber security and illicit drugs.

He highlighted the RoK’s appreciation of ASEAN’s support for the resumption of dialogue process on the Korean Peninsula.

With regard to the East Sea issue, Lim made three succinct points about the RoK’s position on the issue: peace and stability in the East Sea is very important, the freedom of navigation and overflight in and over the waters is very important to the RoK as well, and disputes should be resolved peacefully through dialogue.

In the interview, Lim said the RoK is an important strategic partner of ASEAN, and it has been doing its utmost to work together with ASEAN in the joint fight against COVID-19. 

More specifically, the RoK has been the first country among ASEAN dialogue partners to contribute 1 million USD to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund. It has also contributed 5 million USD to the bloc for enhancing the COVID-19 detection capacity of all the member states. 

He added that the RoK will continue to work together with ASEAN, including Vietnam, for instance, by establishing the RoK-ASEAN health ministerial meeting in the near future. The RoK can do more, not just in response to COVID-19 but also any other future public health emergencies, the ambassador said.

He also said the RoK would like to see more or increase down the road, not just for trade, but also for investment and tourism between the RoK and ASEAN, and that it very much hopes that it can have a fast track entry programme with every ASEAN member sooner rather than later.

In terms of Vietnam’s role as ASEAN Chair, Lim held that in the history of ASEAN, 2020 might be recorded as the most difficult year for the operation of ASEAN diplomacy, apparently because COVID-19. 

In this context, Vietnam has shown exemplary leadership for various ASEAN meetings and initiatives, and it has shown indeed cohesive and responsive leadership in dealing with the pandemic, he said.

In that regard, the Vietnamese Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta and Ambassador Tran Duc Binh have played an instrumental role in promoting an expediting interaction between ASEAN and dialogue partners. One example of that leadership was the special summit on COVID-19 held in April, the diplomat noted. 

He also expressed his hope to see the continued leadership of Vietnam for all those important ASEAN meetings, including the November summit, and if the COVID-19 situation could be stabilised in the near future, he looks forward to the convening of that summit not online, but face to face./.