South Korean President Moon Jae-In addresses the 20th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plus Three (APT) Commemorative Summit on the sideline of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila on November 14, 2017. REUTERS

MANILA: South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday called for stepped-up efforts to form a regional community among Southeast Asian countries and three Northeast Asian nations including China and Japan, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

The call came at an annual summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), known as the ASEAN Plus Three.

The regional forum involves the leaders of all 10 ASEAN countries, plus the leaders of South Korea, Japan and China. The meeting came one day after the South Korean leader held a bilateral summit with ASEAN.

“President Moon stressed the need to further develop the ASEAN Plus Three that helps protect the lives of people in the region, noting the countries’ cooperation played a pivotal role in successfully overcoming the 1997 Asian financial crisis,” the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.

Moon called for additional efforts to further liberalise trade and deepen economic integration in the region, along with efforts to enhance the countries’ joint food security.

“Noting increased cooperation in such areas will contribute to raising the connectivity of ASEAN, President Moon introduced plans to strengthen our cooperation in those areas by expanding exchanges and our support for human resources development,” Cheong Wa Dae said in a press release.

The South Korean president also vowed efforts to increase his country’s cooperation with Japan and China to help realise forming an East Asian community.

Turning to North Korean issues, Moon asked the ASEAN countries and the two Northeast Asian nations to help peacefully end the nuclear standoff, stressing the need to maintain maximum pressure and sanctions against the communist North.

The South Korean president arrived here on Sunday as part of his three-nation trip that earlier took him to Indonesia and Vietnam.

He was later set to attend the East Asia Summit that will involve the 13 countries in the ASEAN Plus Three talks and five other countries, including Russia and the United States.

Moon will return home Wednesday. --Bernama

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