By Park Ji-won, Koreatimes
Ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) Chairman, Rep. Lee Hae-chan, left for Vietnam, Monday, for a three-day visit centered on seeking support for President Moon Jae-in’s New Southern Policy of improving ties with Southeast Asian nations.
Before departing from Incheon International Airport, Lee told reporters he plans to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Vietnam’s ruling party to boost political exchanges and cooperation between the two parties.
“Last December, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung visited the DPK and asked us to sign an MOU between ruling parties,” Lee said.
“Vietnam is very important for the country’s New Southern Policy. It is one of the countries with the most human and trade exchanges with the South and has a large potential among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).”
The trip followed Moon’s recent state visits to ASEAN countries such as Brunei, Malaysia and Cambodia to boost ties with them under the New Southern Policy. It aims to widen its diplomatic spectrums and reduce reliance on the neighboring countries for trade and security.
Lee is also expected to follow up on the breakdown of the second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump held in Hanoi, Vietnam last February.
Regarding the summit, he rejected the speculation that his trip was aimed at seeking a post-Hanoi breakthrough in inter-Korean relations and said, “It is aimed to boost exchanges between South Korea and Vietnam separate from inter-Korean relations.”
During the trip, Lee plans to meet with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, he added.
He is also scheduled to visit a Samsung Electronics factory and meet with South Korean businesspeople working there to learn about their business environment and two-way trade between Seoul and Hanoi.
Vietnam has diplomatic relations with both South Korea and North Korea.