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At APEC summit, Yoon offers to lead action on climate change, supply chain risks

Nov. 18, 2023 - 12:44 By Yonhap
President Yoon Suk Yeol and first lady Kim Keon Hee board on a airplane after attending an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit held in San Francisco, Friday, local time. (Yonhap)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol wrapped up a visit to San Francisco on Friday after attending an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit that demonstrated South Korea's growing solidarity with the United States and Japan and its commitment to leading global action on climate change and supply chain risks.

This year's APEC gathering was held under the theme, "Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All," and brought together leaders of the 21 member economies, including Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi's attendance was highly anticipated as the Chinese leader was due to hold a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines.

Whether Yoon and Xi would hold their own bilateral summit was a focus of attention, as South Korea and China have experienced a series of ups and downs in their relationship in recent years.

While the summit did not materialize, Yoon focused on further cementing ties with Washington and Tokyo by holding a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida -- their seventh this year -- and participating in a trilateral photo with Biden and Kishida.

Meanwhile, Yoon did exchange greetings with Xi at an APEC session.

After having their photo taken, Biden reportedly thanked Yoon and Kishida for lightening his load in performing his duties as president of the United States, a likely reference to Yoon and Kishida's efforts to mend the South Korea-Japan relationship, which is key to the implementation of U.S. policy for the Indo-Pacific region.

The three leaders previously met for a trilateral summit at Camp David in August and produced a set of agreements to expand trilateral security cooperation.

At the APEC summit, Yoon issued a call to action on climate change and supply chain risks.

During one session, he said South Korea will lead the spread of carbon-free energy use, and hopes to cooperate with APEC member states.

At another session, he called on APEC economies to prioritize supply chain resilience by adopting early warning systems and other steps to address supply chain disruptions.

Yoon also participated in a summit of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which was held on the margins of the APEC summit and produced an agreement to launch a "critical minerals dialogue" for the establishment of stable critical mineral supply chains.

In addition to meeting with Kishida, Yoon held bilateral meetings with the leaders of Peru, Chile and Vietnam.

During the series of meetings, Yoon highlighted the threat posed by military cooperation between Russia and North Korea and discussed ways to work together against such "illegal cooperation," according to his office.

He also met with Apple CEO Tim Cook, who vowed to continue cooperation with and investment in South Korean firms, saying the tech giant would not have been able to reach its current position without the help of the South Korean government and South Korean business partners. (Yonhap)