President Roh'S Diplomacy During APEC
The APEC conference will be a test period for President Roh Moo-hyun regarding his ability to cope with the pressuring international issues.
Since he became the nation's head of state in early 2003, President Roh Moo-hyun has seen his diplomatic skills gradually built up in a number of summits with foreign heads of state. But, this time as a host, he is to use an Asia-Pacific forum as another measure of his success in "summit diplomacy." An international arena for unreserved talks with the 21 heads of state, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2005 will culminate with the two-day summit of the top leaders in Busan from Nov. 18 to 19 and some other top-level talks on the sidelines.
Launched as a ministerial meeting with 12 founding members in Canberra, Australia, in 1989, APEC has since become the main organization to promote economic growth and prosperity in the region and strengthen mutual ties among member states.
A premier forum to facilitate trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, APEC has represented the most dynamic region of the world in terms of economy with its 21 members accounting for 57 percent of the world's GDP and 45.8 percent of its total trade volume.
As the host country, South Korea encounters a crucial tipping point to establish its capability with other APEC member states through the biggest international forum it has ever seen on its soil. It, in the meantime, also provides President Roh a key opportunity to emerge as a star in the diplomatic world.

Global Leadership

With his talks with the heads of four surrounding powers being critical for the nuclear issue besides bilateral relations with each of them, President Roh's role as the host of the APEC summit seems to have become more meaningful from a broader perspective.
He will preside over two rounds of "retreats"during the two-day event, where only the heads of the 21 member countries would convene in casual attire at the Nurimaru APEC House on Dongbaek Islet in the port city of Busan for frank talks on issues of mutual concern.
Issues related to trade and investment would top the agenda of the regional forum as its main objectives are dedicated to economic problems. But, in recent years, anti-terrorism measures and other international issues such as the globalization have also emerged as major concerns.
And, therefore, President Roh could offer to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue in the retreats and besides propose a new initiative with his own agenda. Cheong Wa Dae hoped the APEC forum could serve as a good opportunity for President Roh to display such inventive diplomatic skills.
"He is not simply a very talented advocate but also a talented presider,"a presidential aide said on condition of anonymity. "This is the first time for him to chair such a forum of international leaders. But we are sure that he will do a very good job in the APEC summit."In a recent luncheon meeting at Cheong Wa Dae with dozens of senior journalists from foreign news media, President Roh said he plans to make a fresh proposal to tackle the social disparities, which separate the haves and have-nots, when he hosts the APEC forum.
While stressing the need to address the growing global inequality, he hoped the regional forum could pursue sustainable economic growth and the alleviation of social injustice at the same time.
" The more you emphasize the business-friendly environment, the more the social gap tends to widen and the poor tend to be excluded from the market,"
he was quoted as telling the foreign media correspondents.
"I thought we need to arouse attention against a possibility that our current policies could, from a longer-term perspective, bring about even a bad environment for the enterprises,"he added, according to his spokesperson, Kim Man-soo.
Elected on a liberal platform, President Roh has also made efforts at home to achieve his goal to improve economic growth while mitigating the widening social polarization despite ferocious criticism from his conservative opponents.
President Roh, who started his five-year term of office as a "diplomatic novice,"has so far gained much confidence through numerous rounds of summits to the extent he could even extol himself in a recent media interview for his diplomatic achievements in the past two and a half years.
Beside the horde of bilateral and multilateral summits, President Roh will also host softer events such as dinner galas and others such as the joint press conference. He has dedicated his morning schedules to the preparations for APEC these days, according to sources in Cheong Wa Dae.
It would be not too much to say, experts said, that it would largely depend on the diplomatic performance of the head of state, whether the APEC 2005 in Busan would be successful enough or not. And the world's eyes are fixed on President Roh ahead of the forum.
nw

Twenty-one APEC leaders get together for the APEC Economic Leaders?Meeting on Nov. 18-19. The caricatures of the participating heads of state are South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun (1), George W. Bush of the United States (2), Hu Jintao of China (3), Junichiro Koizmi of Japan (4), Vladimir Putin of Russia (5), Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore (6), Paul Martin of Canada (7), Ricardo Lagos Escobar of Chile (8), John Winston Howard of Australia (9), Vicente Fox Quesada of Mexico (10) and Helen Elizabeth Clark of New Zealand (11).

APEC heads of state from (from left) Lin Shin-yee of Taiwan, Gloria M. Arroyo of the Philippines, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, Dato?Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia, Shinawatra Thaksin of Thailand and Alejandro Toledo Manrique of Peru

APEC heads of state from (from left) Tran Duc Luong of Vietnam, Donald Tsang of Hong Kong,
Michael Somare of Papua New Guinea and Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam


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