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Moon will head off to Central Asia next week

Apr 09,2019
President Moon Jae-in will depart for a three-country trip to Central Asia next week to promote his new northern policy, the Blue House said Monday.

Moon will have state visits to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan from April 16 to 23 for eight days, said Ko Min-jung, deputy spokeswoman at the Blue House. It will be the first time that Moon will visit the Central Asian region since he took office in May 2017.

Moon’s first destination will be Turkmenistan, where he will have a summit with President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

From April 18 to 21, Moon will visit Uzbekistan and have a summit with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. During the meeting, the two leaders will discuss a plan to upgrade the bilateral strategic partnership between the two countries and talk about other cooperative measures.

Moon will conclude his trip with a visit to Kazakhstan. A summit with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev will take place to discuss efforts to build trust with the new Kazakh administration and expand cooperation. Moon is scheduled to return to Korea on April 23.

The Moon administration promoted a pair of new diplomatic visions - the New Northern Policy and the New Southern Policy - since it took over 2017. The administration has said it wants to shift Korea’s heavy diplomatic reliance on China and the United States, and diversify its partnerships.

The New Northern Policy is aimed at expanding cooperation with Russia, Mongolia and Central Asian countries. The New Southern Policy is intended to expand Korea’s cooperation with Southeast Asia. Ko said Monday that the three countries Moon will visit next week are key partners in the New Northern Policy.

“Moon’s upcoming trip is intended to strengthen Korea’s traditional friendships with the three Central Asian countries and expand the region’s consensus for his New Northern Policy,” Ko said.

Before the trip next week, Moon will visit the United States for a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. Moon will depart for Washington tomorrow and meet with Trump on Thursday. He will return to Korea on Friday and then leave for Central Asia four days later.

The upcoming summit between Moon and Trump is their seventh so far. It will take place 40 days after the breakdown of Trump’s denuclearization summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam.

BY SER MYO-JA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]