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(LEAD) Moon, Mahathir agree on 'strategic partnership' between S. Korea, Malaysia

All News 11:45 November 28, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with summit results; CHANGES headline ADDS photos, byline)
By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, Nov. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad agreed Thursday to elevate relations between their countries to a "strategic partnership" next year, noting that bilateral ties have deepened in various fields such as cutting-edge industries, energy, arms projects, health care and the environment.

During Cheong Wa Dae talks in Seoul, Moon suggested a concerted effort for a solidified "synergy of policy cooperation" by harmonizing the New Southern Policy of his government and Malaysia's Look East Policy, Moon's office said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) shakes hands with Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad ahead of their summit at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Nov. 28, 2019. (Yonhap)

They pointed out that bilateral relations have spread beyond trade and investment to "forward-looking" partnerships in response to the fourth industrial resolution and on other key sectors.

In that regard, they "reached a deal in principle" to upgrade South Korea-Malaysia ties to a strategic partnership on the occasion of next year's 60th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relationship, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

The leaders shared the view that it is important to introduce a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) to help accelerate "economic solidarity" between the two sides. They agreed to continue efforts toward signing a "high-level, mutually beneficial" deal on the basis of the relevant negotiations held so far.

Moon requested Malaysia's unswerving support and cooperation in connection with the Korea peace process.

The president said his administration will continue a journey toward the complete denuclearization of the peninsula and permanent peace through various initiatives, including a push to transform the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) into an international peace zone.

The prime minister reaffirmed his government's support for South Korea's related efforts, Cheong Wa Dae said.

Following the summit, Moon and Mahathir attended the signing ceremony for four memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on promoting cooperation on information and communications technology, digital government, health care and medical science, and water and sewage management.

South Korea and Malaysia hold a summit at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Nov. 28, 2019. (Yonhap)

It was a follow-up to their one-on-one talks in Kuala Lumpur during Moon's trip there in March.

Mahathir arrived in Seoul for a two-day official visit after participating in the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit in Busan, a port city 450 kilometers southeast of the capital.

He congratulated Moon on the successful hosting of the Busan session, the largest diplomatic event held in South Korea since the launch of the Moon administration in May 2017.

Moon told Mahathir that South Korea will cooperate actively with Malaysia so that it can successfully host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit next year.

The Cheong Wa Dae summit marked the finale of Moon's intensive ASEAN-related diplomacy this week.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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