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S. Korea to focus on Asia for overseas aid projects: KOICA chief

Diplomacy 16:29 November 27, 2018

SEOUL, Nov. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's overseas aid agency plans to place more emphasis on Asia for its future projects, in line with the government's regional strategy as highlighted by the New Southern Policy, the head of the organization said Tuesday.

Lee Mi-kyung, president of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), pointed out that what's most important is to find effective official development assistance (ODA) programs in partner countries.

The agency crafts a detailed overseas operation plan two years ahead of implementation for administrative procedures and other preparations.

"We intend to draw up the next plan with more focus on Asia," Lee said during a press conference in Seoul to mark the first anniversary of her inauguration.

Lee Mi-kyung, president of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), is shown in this file photo. (Yonhap)

She said KOICA will support the government's policy of strengthening strategic ties with countries located southwest of Korea, especially India and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Moon Jae-in administration hopes to improve Seoul's ties with those countries to the level of relations with the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, both diplomatically and economically, under the slogan of three Ps: people, peace and prosperity.

KOICA has used the same keywords to describe its vision since Lee, a former politician, took office.

It plans to expand new projects in partner nations of the New Southern Policy 110 percent each year.

KOICA officials said they are wary of a possible impression that Seoul is seeking to use ODA programs as a diplomatic and security policy tool.

Song Jin-ho, vice president of KOICA, drew a line between the agency's programs and such ambitious initiatives as China's Road and Belt policy and the U.S.' Indo-Pacific strategy in size and content.

"What we can do well is small but strong ODA projects," he said, sitting next to Lee. "Sharing such values as peace, human rights, democracy, governance and gender equality with ASEAN is the embodiment of KOICA's approach."

lcd@yna.co.kr
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