SINGAPORE: Singapore believes that “constructive dialogue” is necessary to achieve peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday (Jul 12), on the sidelines of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s state visit to Singapore.
Speaking to reporters at a joint press conference, Mr Lee said that Singapore is happy to have hosted the recent summit between North Korea and the United States, and wished South Korea and all other parties involved success.
“It is a long road ahead, with many more challenges to come,” he said. “But I hope the Singapore meeting has set things moving in the right direction.”
Mr Lee noted that he appreciates the South Korean government’s initiatives, including Mr Moon’s personal efforts in encouraging dialogue with the North.
He added that Singapore will continue to work with South Korea and the international community to achieve lasting peace and stability and the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
SINGAPORE HAS STRONG, EXPANDING ECONOMIC TIES WITH SOUTH KOREA
Mr Lee added that Singapore’s economic ties with South Korea are “strong and expanding”, with overall trade reaching S$45 billion in 2017.
He said both parties discussed ways to step up economic cooperation, and expressed the hope that progress could be made on existing areas of cooperation like trade. For example, he hoped that the next implementation review of the Korea-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (KSFTA) can be held soon.
“It will show the international community that our countries are committed to free and open trade,” he said.
During the visit, Mr Lee and Mr Moon also witnessed the signing of six Memoranda of Understanding covering the environment, free trade, smart grids, the fourth industrial revolution, small and medium enterprises, and investments.
“These agreements build upon our existing cooperation and trade mechanisms, but also our complementary strengths,” he said.
“We also welcome Korean companies to take advantage of Singapore to expand into the ASEAN region.”
Mr Lee added that both leaders discussed South Korea’s relations with ASEAN, and said he was glad that South Korea is increasing its engagement with the region.
Possibilities for growing relations between ASEAN and South Korea could include upgrading the ASEAN-ROK (Republic of Korea) Free Trade Area and concluding an ASEAN-Korea Air Services agreement, he said.
Mr Moon’s visit to Singapore is his first as president, and the first state visit by a South Korea president to Singapore in 15 years.
He was given an official welcome by President Halimah Yacob at the Istana on Thursday morning and will be attending a state banquet in his honour.