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[Incumbent] NEACHS Webinar Welcoming Remarks (as delivered)

  • Date : 2021-01-04 09:52:44
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It is my pleasure to welcome you all today as we launch the ‘Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative for Infectious Disease Control and Public Health’. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules at the end of what has been an extraordinary year. 

Wholly unexpected at its start, 2020 has been taken over by the Covid19 pandemic, posing overwhelming challenges for each country and all countries. The far-reaching consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how interconnected and yet vulnerable we are. It has underscored the need for heightened international cooperation, not only in dealing with the immediate challenge at hand, but also in building resilience for future pandemics and other transboundary risks to come. This is especially so for countries adjoined by common borders and closely connected by robust movement of people and goods.

In this light, President Moon Jae-in proposed the ‘Northeast Asia Cooperation Initiative for Infectious Disease Control and Public Health’ at the 75th UN General Assembly in September. 

Today’s kick-off meeting is the first step in this Initiative to build a platform to share our experiences with COVID-19 while learning from and pooling knowledge with others, and developing in the long run, into a more comprehensive architecture for addressing other emerging transboundary health risks. By addressing challenges together, we will be able to unleash the full potential for cooperation among regional partners.

At the geographical center of this initiative lies the Korean peninsula. South and the North Korea are bound in a single community of life and safety, affected by common threats such as infectious diseases and natural disasters. I hope to welcome North Korea to this Initiative in the near future. Its participation would surely be in the public health interest of North Korea as well as of all neighboring countries. The spirit of inclusive cooperation and solidarity that the Initiative would nurture would also strengthen the efforts to lay the groundwork for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, Northeast Asia and beyond.

I hope today’s meeting will be a fruitful opportunity to share our experiences, propose new ideas and find common ground in our goals.

This is a very relevant and productive way to close out the year. So, thank you all again for coming together. I wish you lively discussions, and a happy new year. Thank you.