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(LEAD) Ministry holds videoconference with all overseas mission chiefs on COVID-19 response

Diplomacy 23:02 July 09, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 4-7)

SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- The foreign ministry on Thursday held a videoconference with the heads of all of South Korea's overseas diplomatic missions to discuss ways to reinforce the country's response to the new coronavirus.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha presided over the session that brought together more than 180 diplomats, including ambassadors, consulate generals and other diplomatic mission chiefs across the world, as well as senior officials in Seoul.

It marked the first such online gathering involving all chiefs of overseas missions. The ministry initially planned to hold a face-to-face meeting in Seoul in March, but postponed it due to the pandemic.

In her opening remarks, Kang stressed the importance of "creative and proactive" diplomacy to turn the COVID-19-driven crisis into "new opportunities."

Kang put forward a set of tasks for her ministry, such as protecting overseas citizens, contributing to economic recovery and leading international cooperation in health care.

The minister also called for overseas missions' on-the-ground efforts to drum up international support for Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee's bid to become the head of the World Trade Organization.

In a video message, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun asked overseas diplomats to closely cooperate with South Korea's health authorities to help stop or reduce imported COVID-19 cases.

At the session, participants discussed a range of issues, such as the protection of overseas citizens in virus-hit countries, diplomatic support for essential business travelers and humanitarian aid to foreign countries in need of quarantine support.

From January to June, the ministry held a total of 21 videoconferences with overseas mission chiefs to discuss the response to the global health care crisis.

The online discussions came as Seoul stepped up efforts to ensure the safety of citizens abroad in the midst of the pandemic and contribute to the global anti-virus fight.

This photo, taken on June 3, 2020, shows Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha speaking during a videoconference with the chiefs of South Korean diplomatic missions in Southeast Asia at the foreign ministry in Seoul.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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