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ARF's preparatory meeting held ahead of annual session

Diplomacy 21:56 June 29, 2021

SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) -- Senior diplomats of the two Koreas and more than two dozen other countries held a virtual meeting Tuesday to prepare for a major regional security forum led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Seoul's foreign ministry said.

Discussed at the Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) were the COVID-19 pandemic and such issues as the Korean Peninsula security situation, Myanmar and the South China Sea, according to the ministry.

North Korea is a member of the ARF along with 26 nations, including South Korea, the United States, China, Japan, Russia, India and Australia.

Pyongyang joined last year's ARF meeting held via video links due to the coronavirus.

South Korea was represented by Yeo Seung-bae, deputy foreign minister for political affairs, in the SOM session. His North Korean counterpart was An Kwang-il, ambassador to Indonesia, the ministry said.

Yeo stressed the need for international cooperation to ensure fair global access to the COVID-19 vaccines and medical equipment.

He reaffirmed Seoul's commitment to expanding its contribution to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) to help developing nations secure vaccine supplies.

Yeo said South Korea will continue diplomatic efforts the complete denuclearization and establishment of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. He requested that ARF members send a united message urging a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue through the prompt resumption of dialogue.

This year's session, to be chaired by Brunei, is expected to open in early August.

Yeo Seung-bae (C), South Korea's deputy foreign minister, speaks during the Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) member states on June 29, 2021, in this photo provided by his ministry. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr
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