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Assembly speaker calls for solidarity and cooperation in Asia Pacific to tackle COVID-19, climate crisis

South Korean National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug delivers an opening speech at the 29th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) at a Seoul hotel on Tuesday. (Yonhap)
South Korean National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug delivers an opening speech at the 29th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF) at a Seoul hotel on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

South Korean National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug on Tuesday called on countries in the Asia-Pacific region to strengthen solidarity and cooperation to tackle various global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate crisis.
 
His remarks came during the inaugural ceremony of the 29th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum that kicked off for a three-day run from Monday to Wednesday. Under the theme of “The Role of Parliaments in Strengthening Resilience in the Post-COVID-19 Era,” the forum invited 27 member states, including South Korea, China, Japan, Russia, Vietnam and the US, among others.
 
“No country is safe until every country is safe,” said Park in his opening remarks. “These values hold the key to addressing not only the climate crisis but also instability in regional security and economy caused by confrontations and conflicts. Above all, we must strengthen solidarity and cooperation on vaccines among countries in the region.”
 
He stressed that inequitable distribution of vaccines will allow the virus to continue to spread.
 
Park raised concerns that COVID-19, combined with changes brought about by the “fourth industrial revolution” and digital innovation, could make the society even more polarized.
 
“In fact, the pandemic has dealt a heavier blow to vulnerable groups including women, the elderly and migrants,” he said. “I hope that the APPF member countries will take the lead in making an inclusive recovery, embracing the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society.”
 
He also talked about the Korean government’s efforts toward formally declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War, either involving three parties -- the two Koreas and the US -- or four parties -- with China -- and asked for support from the member countries. Park also expressed his willingness to meet his North Korean counterpart “anytime, anywhere and without any conditions.”
 
“Dialogue is the starting line on the journey toward peace. Wishing to contribute to stability on the Korean Peninsula and Asia and the Pacific, I made public my intention to meet with the leader of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea anytime, anywhere, and without any conditions,” he said.


By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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