(ATTN: UPDATES with S. Korean officials' remarks; CHANGES dateline, slug)
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON/SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will host a leader-level discussion on economic growth and shared prosperity during the Summit for Democracy next week, the U.S. State Department announced Wednesday.
The meeting will be one of five leader-level plenary sessions to be held virtually during the two-day summit.
The upcoming summit will mark the second of its kind, following the first summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden in December 2021.
"The United States launched the Summit for Democracy process in early 2021 to put a new and high-level focus on the need to strengthen democratic institutions, protect human rights and accelerate the fight against corruption, both at home and abroad," said Robert Berschinski, senior director for democracy and human rights at the U.S. National Security Council (NSC).
"As President Biden has said, we are currently at an inflection point when it comes to the future of democracy," he told a press briefing. "The defining question of this age is whether democracies will continue to deliver for their people in a rapidly changing world."
The second Summit for Democracy will kick off next Wednesday, co-hosted by Biden, Yoon and the leaders of Costa Rica, the Netherlands and Zambia.
Immediately following joint opening remarks by the five world leaders, Yoon will host the first plenary session of the summit on "democracy delivering economic growth and shared prosperity."
The five leaders will each host a plenary session that will be held on topics that include global challenges, justice for all and strong institutions.
South Korea's presidential office said Yoon will share the experiences of South Korea, which has achieved both democracy and economic growth, and stress his commitment to contributing to the international community.
"By co-hosting the second Summit for Democracy, South Korea is taking the lead in tackling the global issue of the retreat in democracy," National Security Adviser Kim Sung-han told reporters in Seoul.
"By demonstrating our commitment to practicing rules and values on the international stage, we expect this to be an opportunity to elevate our international leadership and national status," he said.
Taiwan is expected to be among the summit's participants, which could draw an angry response from China.
"The summit for democracy does not target a particular country, and it is even less about a confrontation between blocs," a presidential official said, adding that discussions will focus on ways to develop democracy.
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