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Moon to send envoys to five most important nations

May 15,2017
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President Moon Jae-in has chosen five special envoys to coordinate with important foreign nations, including the United States and China.

The Blue House announced Monday that Hong Seok-hyun, former chairman of the JoongAng Ilbo and JTBC, will visit Washington as a special envoy to the Donald Trump White House.

Moon’s envoy to China is former Prime Minister and seven-term Democratic Party (DP) lawmaker Lee Hae-chan. The envoy to Japan is DP lawmaker and former Vice National Assembly Speaker Moon Hee-sang. Rep. Song Young-gil of the DP, who is also former mayor of Incheon, will deliver Moon’s message to Moscow. For the European Union and Germany, Cho Yoon-je, a professor at the graduate school of international studies at Sogang University, will serve as envoy, the presidential office announced.

While a timetable for their trips abroad was not announced Monday, former JoongAng Chairman Hong is likely to leave for Washington Wednesday.

The announcement of the five special envoys came a day after North Korea carried out its first military provocation of the Moon era by firing a missile that flew 700 kilometers (435 miles) and fell in waters between Korea and Japan.

“The special envoys are expected to exchange views (on current affairs surrounding the Korean Peninsula) with their respective countries and will lay down the foundation for cooperative diplomacy for the new administration,” said the presidential office in a statement.

A Blue House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the five special envoys all had wide personal networks in their respective countries. They were chosen because they understand President Moon’s diplomatic vision.

Hong served as ambassador to the U.S. in 2005 for the Roh Moo-hyun administration. Sogang professor Cho was an ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2005 through 2008 and is known for his knowledge of European affairs.

Rep. Song, who will visit Russia, forged a sister city agreement with Saint Petersburg when he headed the Incheon Metropolitan Government from 2010 through 2014.

Special envoy Moon Hee-sang served as president of the Korea-Japan Parliamentarians’ Union between 2004 and 2008.

Rep. Lee Hae-chan has a wide personal network in China and was sent to Beijing by then President-elect Roh Moo-hyun during his presidential transition in early 2003.

On whether Hong’s delegation, which includes DP lawmaker Hwang Hee and Ryu Jin, chairman of Poongsan Corporation, will be able to meet Trump, the official noted what was important would be to deliver the Moon administration’s message to the administration.

In his first phone call with Trump on Wednesday, a day after his election, Moon said he would dispatch a special delegation at the earliest. Hong’s delegation is expected to arrange a summit meeting in Washington between Trump and Moon next month at the earliest.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]