President Yoon Suk-yeol will attend the upcoming ASEAN and G20 summits to strengthen economic and security ties with the region and present the nation’s new Indo-Pacific and ASEAN strategies. During the six-day journey, he could have multilateral talks with the US and Japan, but the chance of bilateral meetings with Japan and China appears low.
The president will depart for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Friday to attend the ASEAN summit and then leave for Bali, Indonesia on Monday to join the G20 summit. This is his first journey to Southeast Asia since taking office.
Yoon will attend the ASEAN summit on Friday upon arrival to present the government's new Indo-Pacific strategies and ASEAN policy, called the Korea-ASEAN solidarity initiative.
Then, he will attend ASEAN Plus Three the next day. The meeting is regional cooperation launched for a joint response in the wake of the Asian financial crisis in 1997. It consists of ten ASEAN member states, South Korea, Japan and China.
On Sunday, the Korean president will attend the East Asia Summit, attended by 10 ASEAN countries along with South Korea, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia and the US.
“The East Asia Summit is a strategic forum for discussing key regional and international security issues at the summit level,” Kim said. “President Yoon will explain our basic position on regional and international issues and emphasize Korea's willingness to contribute actively to freedom, peace and prosperity.”
Yoon will later move to Bali, Indonesia, where the G20 will be held, and attend the B20 Summit -- an event designed to give voice to international business community's views -- on Monday, which will involve representatives of economic organizations and companies that are members of the G20. On Tuesday, he will attend the G20 summit and speak at the food, energy, security and health sessions.
As Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping will also attend the G20 summit, attention is being paid to whether the Korea-Japan and Korea-China summits will be held. But the presidential office saw a slim chance of the bilateral talks.
Regarding the possibility of holding the Korea-Japan summit, a senior presidential official said on the condition of anonymity, "Nothing has been decided yet."
Regarding a possible meeting with Xi, the official said there would be an opportunity to meet with the Chinese president naturally at the conference, without having official talks. "President Xi is very busy because he has just succeeded in serving his third consecutive term.”
The possibility of a summit with US President Joe Biden remains open. "Bilateral talks with President Biden are under discussion," the senior official said, adding, “The Korea-US-Japan summit is under discussion.”
As for the concerns about North Korea's possible seventh nuclear test during President Yoon's trip, the presidential office said the US, Japan and China leaders would respond to the matter virtually.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was widely expected to test the nation’s seventh nuclear test ahead of the US midterm elections held on Tuesday, but he did not. South Korea and the US authorities are closely monitoring the North’s moves, judging that the regime could carry out a nuclear test at any time.
Yoon will return home around 12 p.m. on Tuesday and arrive in Seoul on Wednesday morning. He is scheduled to hold a Korea-Dutch summit on Thursday and a Korea-Spain summit the next day. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is reported to meet with Yoon on Thursday, but the presidential office declined to confirm it.