Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a news conference following talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea Chung Eui-yong, Seoul, March 25, 2021
Ladies and gentlemen,
We held constructive, substantive and fruitful talks with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea Chung Eui-yong.
Last year we marked 30 years of diplomatic relations between our countries. To commemorate this landmark, by decision of President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in, we are holding a special event, the Year of Mutual Exchanges between our countries. Yesterday I accompanied the Foreign Minister to a festive ceremony during which we declared the Year of Mutual Exchanges open. I believe that the ceremony itself symbolised mutual sympathy between our peoples and a qualitatively new level of relations that has developed over the past decades between our nations.
The Republic of Korea is one of Russia’s most important partners in Asia Pacific. We noted with satisfaction the progressive and dynamic development of our bilateral ties. We also reaffirmed the high level of our political dialogue and our resolve to continue expanding and invigorating our contacts, including between our presidents and governments. Our Korean partners reaffirmed last year’s invitation to President Putin to visit Seoul. We agreed to resume discussions on this matter as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.
Our trade and economic cooperation declined last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the talks we held today have shown that we have plans that will allow to quickly reverse this trend and to resume the build-up of our mutual trade. These plans are connected with the concept of Nine Bridges initiated by President Moon Jae-in. We expressed appreciation for the development of our cooperation within the framework of this concept, including in rail transportation, energy supply, nuclear power, shipbuilding, healthcare and medicine.
Large-scale investment cooperation projects are being implemented or prepared for implementation in the Russian Far East and Arctic regions. Talks are ongoing on the establishment of a Russian-Korean investment fund worth up to $1 billion. These and other issues will be on the agenda at the next meeting of the intergovernmental Russian-Korean Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, which is scheduled to take place in Seoul this year. Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea Chung Sye-kyun has received an invitation from Prime Minister of Russia Mikhail Mishustin to attend the Open Innovations international forum, which will be held in Moscow this autumn. As my colleague pointed out, we have great expectations for the next interregional forum this year.
We spoke at length about efforts to deal with the consequences of the pandemic and to ensure the sanitary and epidemiological wellbeing of our citizens. We highlighted the agreement signed between the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and South Korea’s GL Rapha last November to produce the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in Korea, including for future supply to other countries.
We welcome the interest of our Korean partners in the development of the medical clusters on Russky Island and within the framework of Skolkovo.
One of the international issues on which we focused was the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia in general. Moscow and Seoul remain committed to an early resumption of negotiations between the parties in the interests of a lasting settlement of the entire range of problems in the region. We pointed out the importance of efforts to maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia, including on the Korean Peninsula, which implies the sides’ rejection of the arms race and the build-up of all kinds of military activity.
We exchanged views on promoting multilateral initiatives for strengthening cooperation in Northeast Asia in various spheres. Our Korean friends have very interesting ideas regarding this. They evaluated the proposals advanced by Russia.
We discussed the development of our interaction at international organisations, namely the UN and the G20, as well as within the framework of the Asia-Pacific dialogue forums. We spoke about cooperation at the East Asia Summit and other organisations set up in the context of the ASEAN-centric regional security frameworks. Both parties expressed an interest in continued interaction in these open and, in the popular term, inclusive forums.
We have agreed to keep up and strengthen interaction between our foreign ministries. We maintain a ramified network of contacts at different levels. The further development of these ties will be promoted by the plan of exchanges between our foreign ministries for 2021-2022, which we have signed just now.
Our talks were fruitful and well-timed. I hope to be able to continue our contacts during a visit of Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong to Moscow. I have delivered the invitation to him.