ASEAN envoys meet despite COVID-19 to put Korea partnership back on track

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for ASEAN and Korea to follow up on their 2019 commemorative summit in Busan and spur cooperation through more frequent people-to-people exchanges.

Under the circumstances, a roundtable hosted by The Korea Times last week, as described by ASEAN-Korea Centre Secretary General Lee Hyuk, was “timely and meaningful” in helping ASEAN ambassadors to interact and facilitate partnerships between the two regions.

Mediated by Korea Times President-Publisher Oh Young-jin, the roundtable at the newspaper office in central Seoul, June 15, was the first in a series of meetings with ambassadors planned this year to mark the 70th anniversary of the nation’s first English-language newspaper.

Sponsored by the ASEAN-Korea Centre, a Seoul-based intergovernmental organization promoting relations with ASEAN, the June 15 gathering attracted heads of diplomatic missions from all 10 ASEAN member states.

The 10 guests were nine ambassadors — Pg Hjh Nooriyah PLW Pg Hj Yussof of Brunei Darussalam, Long Dimanche of Cambodia, Umar Hadi of Indonesia, Thieng Boupha of Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Dato’ Mohd Ashri Muda of Malaysia, Thant Sin of Myanmar, Eric Teo Boon Hee of Singapore, Rommanee Kananurak of Thailand, Nguyen Vu Tu of Vietnam — plus Charge d’affaires Christian L. De Jesus of the Philippines. Secretary General Lee joined them.

The event was only the second time the guests have been able to meet since the spread of the coronavirus in Korea. The first time was on May 29 during a meeting hosted by the Presidential Committee on New Southern Policy.

Under the theme “Korea-ASEAN efforts to fight COVID-19,” the envoys spoke about their respective countries’ experiences in dealing with coronavirus, their views on what is happening in Korea and how ASEAN and Korea can cooperate better in combating the pandemic.



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