A newly named presidential envoy to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) departed for the Philippines on Sunday, the first leg of his tour of the region.
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, tapped by President Moon Jae-in on Friday to be his special envoy to ASEAN, will travel to Indonesia and Vietnam after visiting the Philippines, the current rotating chair of the ASEAN.
"The current political and economic weight of ASEAN in our country's goal and vision is great but there is hope that it will grow further in the future," Park told reporters before departing from Incheon International Airport. "In this respect, it's very important to cement amicable ties with the countries."
Park added that the greatest purpose of his trip to the ASEAN countries is to deliver the government's view that ASEAN will increasingly have more and more share in its diplomacy.
According to the Seoul metropolitan government, Park will deliver letters from Moon and speak to his counterparts about South Korea's willingness to further improve ties with ASEAN during the trip.
Park will meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday and Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang on Thursday, respectively.
ASEAN, which also counts Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand as members, is South Korea's second-largest trading partner.
The presidential office Cheong Wa Dae earlier noted that Park's appointment reflected the importance the new president attaches to Southeast Asian nations. The president has vowed to strengthen the country's diplomatic relations with ASEAN to the level of those with four global powers, including the United States. (Yonhap)