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(LEAD) Top diplomats of S. Korea, New Zealand hold phone talks over COVID-19 response

All News 20:57 April 16, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with Kang's phone talks with EU official in last 2 paras)

SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) -- The top diplomats of South Korea and New Zealand held phone talks Thursday about cooperation in flattening the curve of new coronavirus infections, the foreign ministry said.

The conversation between Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her New Zealand counterpart, Winston Peters, came as the COVID-19 pandemic has led many countries to step up diplomacy to stem its spread and evacuate their citizens abroad amid lockdowns and border closures.

During the talks arranged at the request of New Zealand's foreign minister, Kang explained that South Korea is continuing strong social distancing restrictions to end the pandemic despite progress in efforts to curb new infections.

Peters congratulated the Seoul government over this week's parliamentary elections that proceeded smoothly despite the pandemic, while voicing hope the two countries will continue close cooperation in quarantine efforts.

In response, Kang stressed the importance of international solidarity in responding to the transnational health crisis and pledged to actively share South Korea's experience in tackling the virus.

Peters expressed appreciation for Seoul's cooperation in helping his country's citizens return home after the coronavirus outbreak in Korea. Kang also voiced gratitude for New Zealand's support for the safe return home of Korean nationals.

Kang also held phone talks with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell over ways to cooperate in tackling the pandemic, her ministry said.

Kang and Borrell, high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy, agreed to explore ways for Seoul and the EU to play a constructive role in containing the virus.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (R) shakes hands with her New Zealand counterpart, Winston Peters, ahead of their meeting in Seoul on Oct. 29, 2019. (Yonhap)


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