President Moon Jae-in has reaffirmed his commitment to advancing South Korea's ties with Southeast Asia, which is one of his administration's key foreign policy goals.
"The 'New Southern Policy' is the core of South Korea's national development strategy. ASEAN enjoys faster growth and has greater growth potential than any other region around the world. We must open the future of peace and co-prosperity in Asia with ASEAN."
During a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Moon said Korea's hosting of the summits with ASEAN and Mekong countries demonstrates his government's devotion to promoting ties with Southeast Asia.
To raise anticipation for the event and to see how the preparations are going, Tuesday's Cabinet meeting was even held in Busan, the host city for the summits.
The president cited the efforts by the administration to strengthen relations with Southeast Asia.
They include his visits to all ten ASEAN members, and the enhanced cooperation in diplomacy, economy and culture at a pace not seen before.
He highlighted the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world's biggest trade deal, which covers 30 percent of global trade.
When RCEP is signed next year, hopefully with India, President Moon anticipates that the deal will further expand free trade, which he says is vital for their co-prosperity.
"Enhancing free trade is crucial in extending our economy and for the mutual prosperity between Korea and ASEAN. In this sense, the RCEP agreement improves conditions for investment trade between the two sides, as well as accelerating the 'New Southern Policy.'"
The Korea-ASEAN commemorative summit also drew international attention over the possibility that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un might visit.
While President Moon did emphasize the importance of working toward peace on the Korean Peninsula, he did not directly mention anything regarding Kim's visit.
He was likely aware of how unlikely a visit by Kim would be amid uneasy inter-Korean relations.
But the Blue House is keeping its door open.
A senior Blue House official said Monday, that although there are no developments to share, organizers continue to make preparations, remaining open to all possibilities.
Park Hee-jun, Arirang News.