Moon to visit Austria, Spain following G7 summit

10-Jun-2021 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 8:32 AM Print This Post

President Moon Jae-in will attend the G7 summit this weekend and make consecutive state visits to Austria and Spain, signaling that he will resume regular overseas trips to strengthen Korea’s diplomatic presence in the later stages of his tenure.

Cheong Wa Dae spokeswoman Park Kyung-mee said Wednesday that Moon will depart Korea, Friday (KST), to attend the G7 summit slated from Friday to Sunday (local time) in Cornwall, the United Kingdom. After attending the leaders’ meeting, Moon will jet off to Vienna, Sunday, for a state visit to Austria and then move on to Madrid, June 15, to meet with Spanish King Felipe VI

President Moon Jae-in speaks during a Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, Tuesday. Yonhap

President Moon Jae-in speaks during a Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, Tuesday. Yonhap

The visits come after Moon’s meeting with US President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., last month. The President returned from his US trip with a meaningful outcome on the two allies’ partnership in technology and COVID-19 vaccine supplies. With the world making progress in vaccinations, Moon is also expediting efforts to finish up suspended diplomatic tasks before his tenure ends next May.

“President Moon will attend three sessions of the G7 summit and share Korea’s experiences of the Korean New Deal Initiative, which has its backbone in the green and digital sectors,” Park said. “Also, he will make a state visit to Austria to meet Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and prime minister Sebastian Kurz. Then, he will make a state visit to Spain to meet King Felipe VI.”

Korea is not a member of the G7 ― comprising Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US ― but was invited to the meeting as a guest country. At the G7 summit, Moon will attend three sessions: COVID-19 vaccine supply expansion, open societies and economies, and responses to climate change.

As Korea is participating in the meeting as a guest, however, Moon will not be part of discussions with G7 leaders about an official joint statement to be issued after the summit, another senior official at Cheong Wa Dae said.

The presidential office said Korea’s participation in the summit shows that the country’s status has risen. During a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Moon said, “The fact that Korea was invited to the G7 summit for the second consecutive year shows that our international status has been elevated to that of the G7 countries.”

Former US President Donald Trump invited Moon to last year’s G7 summit, which did not take place due to the pandemic. This year, UK prime minister Boris Johnson invited Korea as a guest country, along with, India, Australia and South Africa.

The G7 summit is garnering keen attention from the perspective of Northeast Asia diplomacy as well, because expectations have been growing that the leaders of Korea, the US and Japan may meet during it, as part of Washington’s bid to strengthen relations with its Asian allies, and contain China.

For Korea, the summit has also been anticipated to be a test of Moon’s balancing act between Washington and Beijing, because the G7 members are expected to agree on launching a development project that rivals China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The senior official, however, denied such expectations. “Sessions participated in by guest countries are for drawing up joint measures and responses to challenges in healthcare and climate change. And it is not about containing a certain nation,” he said.

After the G7, Moon will fly to Austria to have a meeting with his Austrian counterpart, on what according to Cheong Wa Dae will be the first visit to Austria by a Korean president since the two countries forged ties in 1892.

“Next year will mark the 130th anniversary of the two countries’ ties, and Moon will be the first Korean President to visit Austria,” Park said. “Taking this opportunity, bilateral ties will be elevated further.”

In Austria, Moon and President Van der Bellen are expected to share their opinions on bolstering cultural exchanges, and their countries’ partnership in responding to climate change, and eco-friendly industries.

After visiting Austria, Moon will arrive in Madrid, June 15, to meet King Felipe VI.

Cheong Wa Dae officials said this will be a reciprocal visit for the monarch’s trip to Korea in 2019. At that time, the two countries agreed to boost ties in the areas of the digital economy, renewable energy and infrastructure.

When Moon arrives Madrid, it will be Spain’s first hosting of a state visit since the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The visit will be an opportunity for Korea to boost its partnership with Spain,” Park said. “During the meeting, the two sides will explore ways to strengthen cooperation in healthcare, stabilise bilateral trade and increase business exchanges.”

 

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