Pres­i­dent lauds ftaap road map

Mean­while, de­tails of park’s con­ver­sa­tion with obama scarce

JoongAng Daily - - National - BY SEO JI-EUN spring@joongang.co.kr

BEIJING — Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye yes­ter­day de­clared her solid support for the China-led Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pa­cific (FTAAP), which she be­lieves will serve as an ef­fec­tive means to ac­cel­er­ate the level of free­dom for trade and in­vest­ment within the re­gion.

The pres­i­dent ad­dressed re­gional lead­ers ear­lier yes­ter­day at the be­gin­ning of the first ses­sion of the an­nual Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) sum­mit, laud­ing China’s ef­forts to cre­ate a new growth en­gine for coun­tries in the Asia-Pa­cific.

When ad­dress­ing mem­bers at the APEC sum­mit, Xi de­fined the in­te­gra­tion of ex­ist­ing trade deals as one of the sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ments of the in­ter­na­tional gath­er­ing this year.

China chaired the event this year, which it hopes it can use to as­sert a big­ger lead­er­ship role in the in­terna- tional arena.

The mem­ber coun­tries rep­re­sent 40 per­cent of the global pop­u­la­tion and 60 per­cent of the world’s eco­nomic out­put.

“Last year, I com­pared var­i­ous on­go­ing free trade ef­forts to a trib­u­tary and the FTAAP to a large river,” Park said. “When free trade ef­forts are con­sol­i­dated, the ef­fect be­comes much big­ger. … In this re­gard, I strongly support the road map Beijing has pro­posed to­ward the re­al­iza­tion of the FTAAP.”

At the open­ing cer­e­mony of the APEC sum­mit yes­ter­day morn­ing, Xi called for progress on a “road map” to­ward closer eco­nomic in­te­gra­tion among the group’s 21 mem­ber economies. China has stressed that the free trade area is com­pat­i­ble with ex­ist­ing re­gional free trade pacts be­tween dif­fer­ent coun­tries, mean­ing it won’t deal a blow to those agree­ments, in­clud­ing the ones be­tween Korea and the United States as well as Korea and China.

As ex­pected, Pres­i­dent Park and U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama had a brief sum­mit talk dur­ing the day.

“Pres­i­dent Park and Pres­i­dent Obama met after the lun­cheon and had mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion on pend­ing is­sues,” pres­i­den­tial spokesman Min Kyung-wook said in a brief­ing, quot­ing Ju Chul-ki, the se­nior pres­i­den­tial sec­re­tary for for­eign af­fairs and se­cu­rity.

Dur­ing the 20-minute talk, con­ducted at a ho­tel near the APEC sum­mit venue, the two lead­ers agreed to make joint ef­forts to de­nu­cle­arize North Korea, said Min.

Min said the two lead­ers reached the con­sen­sus that it is im­por­tant for in­ter­na­tional so­ci­ety to take a united stance against North Korea’s nu­clear pro­grams.

Be­fore Min gave a brief­ing on the meet­ing in the evening, de­tails of the talk be­tween Park and Obama were not avail­able for hours, with the for­eign af­fairs and se­cu­rity of­fice un­der the Blue House avoid­ing mak­ing a dis­clo­sure to the me­dia.

But that wasn’t the only con­tent that re­mained con­fi­den­tial for hours.

As ques­tions piled up over when the meet­ing would oc­cur, Blue House of­fi­cials at­tempted to re­duce its sig­nif­i­cance, say­ing it would be a ca­sual en­counter, given that Park and Obama were al­ready en­gaged in con­ver­sa­tion as they walked into the wel­com­ing re- cep­tion, which was held in a venue along­side the swimming sta­dium at the Na­tional Aquat­ics Cen­ter.

Even though Blue House of­fi­cials re­peat­edly stated that the Park-Obama meet­ing would ma­te­ri­al­ize yes­ter­day, the is­sue of “ex­actly when” took a roller-coaster ride dur­ing the day un­til after Min an­nounced at around 2:40 p.m. that the di­a­logue had al­ready con­cluded, com­ing up with lit­tle de­tail.

This was the first time Obama ap­peared at the APEC con­fer­ence in two years. He was forced to miss the meet­ing in Oc­to­ber 2013 due to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down.

The U.S. pres­i­dent was set to have a one-on-one meet­ing with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in the early evening yes­ter­day. The two lead­ers agreed Mon­day to grant visas to each other’s cit­i­zens, valid for up to a decade, in a sym­bolic ges­ture to bol­ster trade and business trans­ac­tions be­tween the world’s two largest economies.

Pres­i­dent Park and Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott also had a meet­ing yes­ter­day. The di­a­logue came just seven months after the Aussie premier vis­ited Seoul to sign the Korea-Aus­tralia free trade agree­ment deal.

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