South Korea’s new focus on Southeast Asia

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Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (right) shakes hand with South Korea's President Moon Jae-In during a Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony at the Bogor palace. AFP

BOGOR, Indonesia (Reuters) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in yesterday unveiled a new policy aimed at deepening ties with Southeast Asia, as the North Asian economic powerhouse seeks to curb its reliance on traditional trading partners like China and the US.

Moon made Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, his first state visit to the region and was accompanied by a delegation of around 200 business leaders.

The “New Southern Policy” aims to better connect South Korea to Asean and expand the economic influence of Asia’s fourth-largest economy in the region home to more than half a billion people.

“Korean diplomacy in Asia has been more towards Japan, China and Russia. But I see that it should expand to new horizons,” Moon told a business forum in Jakarta, where he pledged to “dramatically strenthen cooperation with ASEAN”.

South Korea’s presidential Blue House has said the policy will mirror Moon’s “New Northern Policy” aimed at expanding cooperation with China, Japan, Russia, and Mongolia.

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