SEOUL, Oct. 27 (Yonhap) -- The Global Consular Forum (GCF) adopted a statement on Thursday, documenting countries' resolve for closer cooperation on consular issues, the first statement adopted by the high-level government body since it was launched in 2013.
The GCF, which aims to better protect tourists and residents in foreign countries, adopted the Seoul Consensus Statement on Consular Cooperation at the closing of its three-day gathering in the city of Songdo, west of Seoul. It was the third meeting of the GCF since its inaugural gathering in London.
Senior consular officials from 33 countries including the U.S., China, Japan, France and Britain joined the global forum. Also, 19 international organizations and private companies such as South Korean mobile telephone operators and airlines joined to discuss their contribution to improving consular services.
The participating countries shared their understanding for international collaboration in providing better consular services to their nationals traveling or residing in foreign countries, especially amid an increasing number of cross-border threats by terrorists and natural disasters.
The countries committed to enhancing multilateral cooperation in key areas like promoting safe travel culture, responding to crises and disasters, and providing consular services to migrant workers, according to the statement,
They also agreed to focus on the GCF format in further strengthening consular cooperation.
"We note that 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations coming into force in 1967. The convention enables and facilitates the delivery of consular services," a copy of the statement read. "Meetings of the (Global Consular) forum provide an opportunity to discuss the past and future benefits and challenges in the practical implementation of the convention."
The Vienna Convention, an international treaty ratified by 179 countries, allows consuls to operate in host countries to protect the interests of their countrymen and deepen bilateral relations between host and sending countries.
On the sidelines of the latest forum, South Korea held bilateral talks with senior consular officials from Britain, Mongolia, the Philippines and Mexico.
“The forum has provided an opportunity to share experiences and opinions of many countries on the consular field and its development,” said South Korea’s Ambassador for Overseas Koreans and Consular Affairs Han Dong-man, who also co-chaired the forum.
"Officials from international organizations and private companies joined the forum for the first time to discuss ways they could contribute to consular services. Their participation has been very meaningful," he said.
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