South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed Sunday to support the expansion of economic and diplomatic ties between South Korea and the 10-member regional organization.
The agreement came after the meeting of President Lee and the secretary-general in South Korea's southern resort island of Jeju, while a special summit to mark the 20th anniversary of establishing a dialogue partnership is scheduled to be held on June 1-2 in the scenic island.
"President Lee and ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan noted the Korea-ASEAN relations continuously improved over the 20 years since the dialogue partnership was established in 1989," Seoul's presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, said in a press release.
The two also noted the South Korea-ASEAN relationship will further develop following the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) on investment that is expected to take place at the end of the two-day summit, it said.
Surin said the signing of the investment treaty will not only expand exchanges and economic cooperation between the two sides, but also help the countries, as well as the world, overcome the global economic slowdown, Cheong Wa Dae spokeswoman Kim Eun-hye told reporters.
According to Yohnap News Agency, South Korean officials earlier said the signing of the investment treaty will bring FTA negotiations between the two sides to a "wholesome conclusion," as an agreement on merchandise has been in effect since 2007, and a deal on services since May.
"I believe South Korea's role in Asia is very important. I also thank President Lee for raising the issue of a need for countries to pursue environmentally friendly development," the ASEAN secretary-general was quoted as saying.
The South Korean president asked for the ASEAN Secretariat's special attention and support for the implementation of measures designed to increase cooperation between South Korea and ASEAN that will be included in the joint statement of leaders at the special Korea-ASEAN summit.
The ASEAN secretary-general promised the active support of the secretariat for cooperation between South Korea and ASEAN, according to the Cheong Wa Dae.
The Korea-ASEAN summit will begin Monday, following the end of a two-day business forum, the CEO Summit, which began in Jeju Sunday.
ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.