President Moon Jae-in has expressed gratitude for Russia’s role and support in bringing the current detente to the Korean Peninsula, and wants economic cooperation between Russia and the two Koreas if a peace regime is established in the region.
Moon said his economic cooperation policy with neighboring countries resembles those initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a speech at the State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, Thursday, the first day of his four-day state visit to the country.
He was the first South Korean president to deliver a speech at the Duma; and his trip to Russia is also the first state visit by a South Korean president since Kim Dae-jung in 1999.
In the speech, Moon talked about the recent historic changes in Pyongyang’s decades-old nuclear standoff and the security situation in Northeast Asia, including North Korea’s commitment to denuclearization agreed to during the inter-Korean and Washington-Pyongyang summits.
The active support and cooperation from the Russian government and people have contributed a lot to these amazing changes,” Moon said. “I’ve dreamed of lasting peace and co-prosperity on the peninsula and Eurasia.”
He said inter-Korean economic cooperation, which will become active once a peace regime is established, should involve a partnership with Russia.
As to the three-way economic cooperation, initial discussions have already been made over joint studies on railway, gas pipeline and electricity grid networks connections. Cooperation in these sectors will help establish strong grounds for an economic community in Northeast Asia. Peace between the two Koreas will also develop into multinational cooperation for peace and security in the region.”
He said the Trans-Siberian Railway has become a symbol and basis for a Eurasian community. “I hope permanent peace will be established on the peninsula so the railway can be extended (through North Korea) to Busan, the southern end of the peninsula where I grew up.”
Moon said Putin’s New Eastern Policy to develop Russia’s Far East combines the strengths of the East and the West to achieve the co-prosperity of Eurasia.
The Korean people also want peace and the co-prosperity of all Northeast Asia beyond the peninsula. My New Northern Policy, which I announced at last year’s Eastern Economic Forum, was the corresponding dream of the Korean people who support the New Eastern Policy,” he said.
Noting 2020 will be the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations, Moon said the two aim to expand trade volume to $30 billion by then from $19 billion in 2017 and double the number of people-to-people exchanges to 1 million.
As parts of the goal, a joint technology innovation center will be set up in Korea, while KORUSTEC in Russia will be expanded. The two countries will also work on joint development projects in various areas including gas, railways, electricity and shipbuilding, and a Korean-style general hospital will be set up in Skolkovo to be managed by Koreans.
Before the speech, Moon met Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the State Duma, and talked about cooperation between lawmakers of the two countries.
The President also met Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev later in the day. He noted that his “people-centered economic” policy has a lot in common with Putin’s 2024 national development goals that include science and technology development, population growth and quality of life improvements. They talked about cooperating for those common goals.