South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha arrives at the Incheon International Airport to depart for Vietnam on Thursday. (Yonhap)
South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on Thursday left for Vietnam for talks with her counterpart there on introducing an expedited entry program for essential visitors from South Korea amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will have to consult intensively. There still remain a lot of parts that need to be coordinated,” Kang told reporters at the Incheon International Airport as she departs for Hanoi for a two-day trip, when asked about the prospect of a fast-track entry program between the two countries.
“Agreement has not been reached yet on the anti-virus measures that we’re thinking of and they believe are necessary.”
Seoul is seeking to implement a “fast-track” entry program with Hanoi, to allow essential trips by businesspeople an exception to coronavirus entry restrictions. It has so far implemented the special procedure with China, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Singapore.
During the bilateral talks with Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh scheduled for Friday, Kang said she will discuss strengthening people-to-people exchange between the two countries, stressing Hanoi’s importance as a key partner for Seoul’s New Southern Policy -- aimed at bolstering relations with South East Asian countries. The two will also discuss cooperation on COVID-19 responses and other bilateral issues. Kang is also expected to ask Vietnam for continued support for the peace process on the Korean Peninsula.
Upon arrival in the country, Kang was set to pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Thursday.
Kang will be the first foreign minister to visit Vietnam amid the pandemic. Her last visit to the country was in March 2018.
It is also her second overseas trip since the outbreak of COVID-19, which made in-person diplomatic activities difficult. Last month, she visited Germany for talks with her counterpart Heiko Maas.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org