South Korea's Navy will host a global forum on maritime security on the southern resort island of Jeju this week on the occasion of its once-in-a-decade international fleet review, officials said Monday.
The 16th biennial Western Pacific Naval Symposium will take place on Friday, bringing together 150 naval representatives from 46 countries, including the United States, China, Japan, Russia and Britain.
The forum was launched in 1988 with an aim to promote trust and cooperation among navies in the region. The South Korean navy hosted it twice in 1998 and 2008 when it held the international fleet review.
Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo will deliver a keynote speech in which he plans to call for the participating countries' cooperation in Seoul's efforts to foster a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
During his congratulatory speech, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Sim Seung-seob will stress the need for regional countries to devise "cooperative responses based on firm trust" to maritime security challenges such as piracy, the Navy said in a press release.
"The geographical scope (of the WPNS) has expanded to include countries in Europe and South America, and this is expected to contribute to maritime peace not only in the Western Pacific but also to the entire world," the Navy said.
The forum coincides with the international fleet review in waters off Jeju.
The review, slated to occur from Wednesday to Sunday, has been overshadowed by a row over Japan's plan to hoist the Rising Sun Flag, a controversial flag regarded as symbolic of its past imperialism, on a vessel of its Maritime Self-Defense Forces during the review. After weeks of controversy, Tokyo has decided not to join the event. (Yonhap)