Leaders and Ministers from 13 Pacific Island Countries (PIC) gathered in Korea last week to discuss opportunities for strengthened regional cooperation and partnerships. With the theme, “Building an Inclusive and Enduring Pacific Partnership for Co-Prosperity, Korea hosted the 2nd Korea – Pacific Island Foreign Ministers Meeting underpinning its desire to be considered one of the Pacific island countries’ key regional partners, alongside Asian giants China and India.
“Korea stands ready to forge a closer partnership with the island countries,” said Hon. Yun Byung-se, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Korea. “Korea has a vibrant bilateral and multilateral diplomacy and we are committed to working closely with the Pacific Island countries through this platform, the annual Korea-PIC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.”
In his opening remarks, Hon. Baron Waqa, President of Republic of Nauru, urged Korea to work closely with Pacific countries to enhance efforts to action the Palau Declaration on Oceans, the Forum Compact on Strengthening Development Coordination and the SAMOA Pathway outcomes. In particular, President Waqa called on Korea’s support to ensure Smaller Islands Developing States’ (SIDS) interests are not lost in the forthcoming negotiations for a legally binding global climate change agreement.
Hon. Tony De-Brum, Foreign Minister for the Republic of the Marshall Islands remarked that this weeks’ meetings, “are an opportunity for all sides to explore deeper partnerships of mutual interest and mutual engagement on the international stage.” Minister De-Brum reminded delegations of the importance of cooperation in 2015 for issues such as the post-2015 development agenda and the UNFCC Conference of Parties meeting Paris (COP 21).
Ministers confirmed regional cooperation between Korea and Pacific island countries on matters relating to trade and investment, energy, climate change and marine and fisheries cooperation. Korea confirmed its plans to expand the ROK-PIFCooperation Fund for regional capacity-building.