S. Korea, China, Japan, ASEAN seek joint fund for medical supplies in summit deal
By Lee Chi-dong
SEOUL, April 15 (Yonhap) -- The leaders of South Korea, China, Japan and ASEAN member states have agreed to push for a joint fund for medical supplies against pandemics like COVID-19, according to their joint statement released Wednesday.
The statement was adopted to summarize the results of a Special ASEAN Plus Three summit that the 13 countries held via videoconferencing the previous day to discuss joint efforts to tackle the novel coronavirus.
The participating leaders were South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, as well as their counterparts from the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The leaders agreed to "consider setting up an APT reserve of essential medical supplies that enables the rapid response to emergency needs," the document read.
"(They) reaffirmed commitments to keep markets open for trade and investment" and enhance cooperation to ensure food security and the sustainability of regional supply chains, it read.
The leaders cited essential goods, such as food, commodities, medicine and medical supplies.
They also agreed to endeavor to "maintain necessary interconnectedness in the region by facilitating to the extent possible the essential movement of people, including business travel, while ensuring the safeguarding of public health in line with our efforts to combat the pandemic as well as to minimize socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19."
The accord reflects Moon's repeated call for exempting indispensable business activities from the travel ban aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.
Among other deals reached in the session were the strengthening of the early warning system in the region for pandemics and other epidemic diseases, and regular exchanges of real-time information on relevant situations.
Speaking at the meeting, meanwhile, Moon said South Korea would offer all available support for other nations to cope with the coronavirus.
"Korea will secure additional funding for humanitarian assistance and respond to the fullest extent possible to any calls for help from other countries, including ASEAN," he said.
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