SINGAPORE, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in invited leaders of Southeast Asian nations Wednesday to special summits South Korea plans to host next year to mark the 30th anniversary of its relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Moon extended the invitation during a Korea-ASEAN summit in Singapore, renewing his commitment to further bolstering relations with the region. Moon said he feels a "special camaraderie" with ASEAN as the two sides have similar experiences of overcoming colonial occupation and realizing economic development.

"We will host a special Korea-ASEAN summit and the first Korea-Mekong summit next year," Moon said. The Korea-Mekong summit refers to a meeting of leaders of South Korea and the Mekong River countries of Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand.

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.

Source: Yonhap News Agency