SINGAPORE, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday he will actively consider inviting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to a special summit that South Korea plans to host for Southeast Asian nations next year, his spokesman said.
Moon made the remark during a summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Singapore after Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the North Korean leader's attendance would make next year's special summit more meaningful, presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said.
"It's a noteworthy suggestion," Moon was quoted as saying. "As the Korean Peninsula situation moves toward peace, we will actively consider inviting Chairman Kim. We will consult closely with ASEAN nations in advance."
During a Korea-ASEAN summit in Singapore, Moon offered to host a special Korea-ASEAN summit and the inaugural summit of the Mekong River countries of Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand next year, and the ASEAN leaders expressed support for the proposal.
Next year's meeting will be the third Korea-ASEAN special summit that South Korea will have hosted after the first on the southern resort island of Jeju in 2009 and the second in the southeastern city of Busan in 2014.
That underlines South Korea's commitment to relations with ASEAN, officials said.
South Korea will be the first among ASEAN's dialogue partners to host a special summit three times. Japan and China hosted two such summits each, while the United States, Russia, India and Australia have hosted one each, officials said.
Moon said that 2019 is a very meaningful year for Korea because it marks not only the 30th anniversary of Korea's relations with ASEAN but also the 100th anniversary of the founding of Korea's provisional government in exile during the Japanese colonial rule.
"I would like to begin a new 30 years of Korea-ASEAN relations and a new 100 years of the Republic of Korea, together with ASEAN leaders," he said. "I invite ASEAN leaders to the Republic of Korea. ... Relations between South Korea and ASEAN will be elevated to the next level."
Moon said his "new southward policy" is an expression of his commitment to seek co-prosperity with ASEAN nations, and his government has worked hard over the past year to lay the groundwork for greater cooperation between the two sides.
Moon said such efforts have produced tangible results, with bilateral trade volume rising 6 percent to US$120 billion in the first nine months of the year from the same period last year and the number of visitors to the other side increasing 17 percent to more than 8 million.
Moon said South Korea will further expand trade and exchanges with ASEAN under the goal of increasing two-way trade volume to $200 billion and the number of visitors to 15 million by 2020.
During Wednesday's meeting, Moon also shared recent developments on the Korean Peninsula and expressed thanks to the ASEAN leaders for their support for Seoul's efforts to bring lasting peace on the divided peninsula, officials said.
The ASEAN leaders expressed their unwavering support for Seoul's peace efforts, officials said.
Source: Yonhap News Agency