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Yoon focuses on freedom at UN

Yoon to meet with US, Japan leaders on sidelines of UN; carry out economic diplomacy in New York, Canada

Sept. 20, 2022 - 14:41 By Shin Ji-hye

President Yoon Suk-yeol (right) and first lady Kim Keon-hee arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Monday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk-yeol, who arrived in New York on Monday afternoon there, was to deliver his first address at the 77th United Nations General Assembly under the theme of “freedom and solidarity,” hold bilateral talks with the US and Japan separately on the sidelines and carry out multiple economic-related schedules in New York.

Yoon's speech was set for the first session of the first day, as he was scheduled to stand on the stage on Tuesday afternoon -- between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. on Wednesday in Korean time -- and deliver the message in Korean.

The theme of this year’s UN General Assembly is “A watershed moment: transformative solutions to interlocking challenges.” The president plans to stress the need for solidarity among liberal democracies, recognizing that the UN system is under threat due to recent traditional and nontraditional security threats.

National security adviser Kim Sung-han said at a briefing Monday at midnight in New York that the key to Yoon’s speech would be, “Countries that share the value of freedom should unite around the United Nations. In other words, those that are economically and technologically able should actively help those who are not.”

Korea was able to realize liberal democratic values in a country that was deeply economically disadvantaged following the 1950-53 Korean War and become one of the world's top 10 economic powers because the US and other countries in the free world believed in and actively helped Korea, he said.

“President Yoon Suk-yeol's message will be to implement such a good precedent at this point with the United Nations,” Kim said.

Following the speech, Yoon will attend a reception where US President Joe Biden has invited leaders of countries attending the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, seeking to expand multilateral diplomatic efforts.

The presidential office said bilateral talks with the US president have been confirmed for Wednesday and a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is also planned for that day.

A luncheon with former World Bank President Kim Yong and a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are also scheduled.

Push for economic cooperation

During his three-day visit to New York, President Yoon has five economic-related items on his agenda, including a digital vision forum hosted by New York University, a meeting of Korean scientists, a Korea-US startup summit, the Korea Brand Expo and a roundtable for investors in North America.

During the roundtable for investors in North America, Yoon plans to explain the government's willingness to attract foreign investment and exchange opinions on individual companies' investment plans, difficulties and the Korean government's policy direction.

He will promise active government support through a meeting with Korean scientists in the US, and plans to encourage Korean startups, large US companies and venture capital entrepreneurs at the Korea-US startup summit.

Yoon, who leaves New York on Thursday, moves next to Toronto to hold a meeting with experts in the artificial intelligence field. He plans to exchange opinions on Canada's success factors that have grown into an AI powerhouse with Geoffrey Hinton, a professor at the University of Toronto who pioneered deep learning technology, and reflect the results in the nation’s AI promotion policies.

Yoon will also hold a summit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa, Ontario, to discuss key cooperation on AI and key mineral resources essential for secondary batteries such as lithium, nickel and cobalt.

The president returns home Saturday.