World leaders, experts to seek paths to peace, co-prosperity in East Asia |
By Lee Chi-dong
JEJU ISLAND, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- The largest international security conference hosted by South Korea was to open here later Wednesday for discussions on the North Korean nuclear issue and paths to attain co-prosperity in East Asia.
The 5th Jeju Peace Forum brings together dozens of world leaders, former and incumbent diplomats, scholars, and journalists under the theme of "Shaping New Regional Governance in East Asia: A Common Vision for Mutual Benefits and Common Prosperity."
They include U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, South Korean Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, according to the Jeju Peace Institute, which organizes the event.
"Participants will have discussions on ways to achieve mutual benefit and common prosperity in East Asia in various sessions on security, economy and history," said Chin Haeng-nam, senior researcher at the institute.
He said this year's session is expected to serve as a stepping-stone for South Korea's efforts to develop the Jeju Peace Forum into an international-level conference comparable with the Davos Forum held each year in the Swiss ski resort town.
The Jeju Peace Forum was launched in 2001 to seek ways to bolster regional cooperation for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, and it has been held on this southern resort island biennially.
"This year, the scope of discussions will be broadened to East Asia and not confined to Northeast Asia," said Chin, who serves as spokesman for the event. "There will be more discussions on economy and history."
The expansion is partly attributable to President Lee Myung-bak's so-called "New Asia Policy," which is aimed at bolstering ties with Asian neighbors, mainly in Southeast Asia, amid the recent global financial crisis.
Chin said his institute is considering holding the conference annually starting in 2011 and changing its name to the "Jeju Forum."
At the opening of the 5th Jeju Peace Forum, meanwhile, the South Korean prime minister was scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the opening of the event. The U.N. chief will give a speech at a session on Thursday, the last day of the forum.
U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens, Chinese Ambassador Cheong Younghwa, Russian Ambassador Gleb Ivashentsov, EU Ambassador Brian McDonald and South Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Shin Kak-soo will have a roundtable meeting on ways to promote a multilateral security mechanism in East Asia.
The other foreign participants include Donald Gregg, former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and currently head of the Korea Society in New York, Charles Morrison, chief of the East-West Center in Hawaii, Wang Yingfan, former Chinese vice foreign minister, William H. Overholt, senior research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, Sakutaro Tanino, former Japanese ambassador to China and Peter Hayes, executive director of the Nautilus Institute for security and sustainable development.