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(LEAD) Vice FM holds conference call with six countries over coronavirus response

Diplomacy 17:00 March 20, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more details in para 4-5; RESTRUCTURES)

SEOUL, March 20 (Yonhap) -- First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young held a conference call with his counterparts from six countries Friday, including the United States and Japan, to discuss ways to cope with the new coronavirus outbreak.

The talks, arranged at the U.S.' request, were joined by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba and Secretary Frances Adamson of Australia and the vice foreign ministers of New Zealand, India and Vietnam -- Mark Sinclair, Harsh Shringla and Bui Thanh Son, respectively.

During the talks, Cho called for other countries to allow the entry of businesspeople as exceptions to the current travel curbs, stressing the importance of cooperation between countries to minimize adverse economic fallout and to effectively contain the disease in the end.

The foreign ministry has so far received 30 cases of appeal from local companies seeking entry exceptions for 3,919 of their employees involved in overseas projects in 15 countries, a ministry official told reporters.

Of them, 184 people were granted visas and 245 people have been allowed exceptions to the entry restrictions after diplomatic consultations.

Cho also explained Seoul's continued aggressive efforts to contain the virus although the country has seen a marked decrease in daily new infection cases and a relatively low mortality rate. South Korea's infection tally reached 8,652, with 94 deaths, Friday.

Separately, Cho also spoke by phone with his Peruvian counterpart, Jaime Antonio Pomareda Montenegro, and asked for Peru's support to ensure a safe return of South Korean tourists stranded there due to its border closure.

A total of 177 South Korean tourists, including 92 people in Cusco and 61 in Lima, are stuck in Peru after the government declared a state of emergency and took steps to restrict movements and suspended flight operations.

In response, Pomareda promised efforts to provide the help Seoul needs for the return of the Koreans. Seoul officials are apparently in talks with Peru to arrange special commercial flights to airlift the Koreans via Mexico.

(LEAD) Vice FM holds conference call with six countries over coronavirus response - 1


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