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(LEAD) S. Korea proposes regional medical supply reserve for health emergencies

All News 09:43 May 28, 2021

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead, 3rd para with official English expression; ADDS more info in 7th para)

SEOUL, May 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has proposed the establishment of a multinational reserve of medical supplies to respond to future health emergencies during a regional cooperation forum, the foreign ministry said Friday.

Seoul made the proposal at the third virtual session of the Northeast Asia Conference on Health Security on Thursday. The forum was launched in December based on an initiative that President Moon Jae-in suggested to foster joint efforts to handle pandemics and other challenges.

Diplomatic and health officials from the governments of the United States, China, Japan, Russia and Mongolia, as well as their embassies in Seoul, attended Thursday's session.

"Our side proposed a way to establish a medical supplies reserve for public health emergencies among the participating countries as early as possible, given that it is crucial to respond rapidly to demands for emergency quarantine items should a new infectious disease emerge," the ministry said in a press release.

Seoul also stressed the importance of developing joint educational and training programs to deal with infectious diseases, and proposed a video-linked session of quarantine and public health experts later this year to discuss the need for such programs.

Participants in the session shared the understanding that the participation of North Korea in the regional dialogue forum is important to strengthen joint responses to transnational public health issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also raised the need to create synergy effects through cooperation between the conference and existing regional forums, such as the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Plus Three meeting involving the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, South Korea, China and Japan.

South Korean officials attend the third virtual session of the Northeast Asia Conference on Health Security at the foreign ministry in Seoul on May 27, 2021, in this photo provided by the ministry. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

South Korean officials attend the third virtual session of the Northeast Asia Conference on Health Security at the foreign ministry in Seoul on May 27, 2021, in this photo provided by the ministry. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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