President Moon Jae-in pledged support for vaccinations in developing nations with a $200 million donation to Covax at the Group of Seven, or G7, summit in Britain on Saturday.
“To support developing countries with vaccines, Korea plans to donate $100 million this year to the Covax AMC [Covid-19 Vaccines Advance Market Commitment] and donate an additional $100 million in cash or kind next year,” Moon said during the G7 meeting in Cornwall, Britain, which was attended by leaders of the G7 nations and four nations invited as guests including Korea.
Moon was in Britain from Friday to Sunday to attend the summit, joined by First Lady Kim Jung-sook and ruling Democratic Party Reps. Hong Young-pyo and Youn Kun-young.
The G7 summit this year invited the leaders of Korea, Australia, South Africa and India to meetings on global health policies; economic cooperation and climate change. The G7 nations are the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada.
It was the second time that a Korean president joined an expanded G7 meeting.
The last was in 2008, when President Lee Myung-bak was invited to the G8, or G7 plus Russia; meeting in Hokkaido, Japan.
In the meeting on global health, Moon suggested that Korea could play a role as a “global vaccine hub.”
“Korea is ready for vaccine partnerships with G7 nations,” Moon was quoted as saying by the Blue House.
He mentioned a recent agreement between the United States and Korea on vaccine cooperation following a U.S.-Korea summit in Washington last month.
Moon held sideline meetings with several heads of states on Saturday including Charles Michel, president of the European Council; Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Moon met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday.
“The European Union [EU] has excellent capacities in the low-carbon economy and renewable energy sector, and Korea and the EU working together in the area could create synergy effects;” Moon said in his meeting with the EU presidents, according to his spokeswoman Park Kyung-mee.
Michel and von der Leyen congratulated Moon on Korea’s Covid-19 response and on the recent P4G (Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030) summit in Seoul, Park said.
In her conversation with Moon, Merkel stressed the importance of the two nations continuing to work together for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
“It was with Chancellor Merkel that I have communicated the most through the years, amongst the G7 leaders, and I am grateful for her global leadership and contributions;” Moon said following his meeting with Merkel, according to the Blue House.
In their meeting Saturday, Morrison invited Moon to Australia for the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Australia and Korea this year, and suggested upgrading their bilateral relations to a comprehensive partnership; to which Moon responded positively, according to the Blue House.
Before Moon arrived at the G7, analysts wondered if a breakthrough in troubled relations with Japan might be possible.
Moon and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga shook hands briefly before the G7-plus-four meeting on global health policies on Saturday; according to the Blue House.
The two were also seen greeting each other, with their wives; at a dinner banquet Saturday hosted by Johnson.
Suga left the scene not long after, but Moon; first lady Kim and Japanese first lady Mariko Suga were seen continuing to converse, according to ANN; a Japanese media company.
Kim, who was traveling abroad for the first time since November 2019; held a separate meeting with first ladies and first gentlemen of the G7 and guest nations prior to the dinner on Saturday.
They watched a performance about climate change by students in the local area.
“Even elementary school students in Korea say they are concerned about environmental issues such as the problem of plastic waste;” Kim said following the meeting, according to the Blue House.
“The performance left a lasting impression, especially its message about the environmental problems that our future generations face […],” she said.
“Climate change is an area that requires cross-generational efforts of international community.”
Moon and Kim will be in Austria through Tuesday, during which Moon will hold a summit with President Alexander Van der Bellen.
It will be the first visit of a Korean president to Austria.
The two nations are celebrating their 130th anniversary of diplomatic relations next year.
Moon and his delegation will travel to Spain Tuesday; the first visit of any foreign leader to Spain since the onset of the pandemic.
Spain and Korea celebrated their 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties last year.
Moon is scheduled to return to Seoul on Thursday.