SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in asked Thursday for continued attention and support for the Korea peace process from Asia-Pacific news agencies, as he greeted their representatives at Cheong Wa Dae.
"Peace on the Korean Peninsula is a starting point for achieving a peace community of co-prosperity," Moon said in a meeting with the heads of 32 news agencies from 28 countries.
They gathered in Seoul for a regular general assembly of the Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA).
Moon noted that the wire services have dispatched news on the peace drive, which began with the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in earnest, to the entire world.
They conveyed "historic scenes," including three rounds of inter-Korean summits last year, U.S. President Donald Trump's crossing over the Military Demarcation Line into North Korea and a trilateral Panmunjom meeting involving North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Moon said.
"There are still many hurdles to overcome, but (peace) is the way (we) must go" not just for Korea and East Asia but also for the entire world, he said. "I believe your attention and support will be of big help in making a new history for peace."
Moon said a deal on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), reached in Bangkok earlier this week during his trip there, represents a "very important opportunity" for the expansion of free trade in the region and co-prosperity.
"It is also a great achievement in that it will serve as a very important stepping stone for moving toward a reciprocal and open trade system, economic development without gaps and an economic community," Moon said.
It also conforms with the spirit of people-centered prosperity which the South Korean government is pursuing under the New Southern Policy and the New Northern Policy, he added. Moon made a three-day visit to the Thai capital for an annual ASEAN Plus Three summit, and an East Asia Summit session and an RCEP summit.
He reminded the participants of South Korea's plan to host a special commemorative summit with ASEAN and a separate summit with Mekong nations in Busan late this month.
"It will be a meaningful event" to discuss ways for the drastic development of relations between South Korea and its future partners for win-win growth, he added.
OANA President Aslan Aslanov speaks at a meeting with President Moon Jae-in at Cheong Wa Dae on Nov. 7, 2019. (Yonhap)
In response, OANA President Aslan Aslanov said this week's session is under way with the theme of "New Challenges for Journalism: Technological Innovations and Issues of Trust."
He said it's appropriate to discuss the issue in South Korea, which is an IT power.
Aslanov, who doubles as Chairman of the Board at AZERTAC, Azerbaijan's state news agency, stressed the negative impact of fake news and misinformation on the core value of journalism.
He wished for success in Moon's peace initiative, saying international peace is one of OANA's founding purposes.
The other participants included Yonhap News Agency CEO Cho Sung-boo and delegates from China's Xinhua News Agency, Japan's Kyodo News and Russia's TASS news agency.
Yonhap is scheduled to chair OANA for the next three years. It will be formally elected as new chair on Friday.
As a leading news agency in South Korea, Cho said, Yonhap will do its best to publicize the government's efforts for peace and harmony in the region via its partnering news agencies.
He said Yonhap will also focus on "media diplomacy" as the OANA chair through the exchange of news with its Asia-Pacific counterparts.
The OANA members are pushing to adopt the "2019 Seoul Declaration" at the end of the conference on Friday, which is about their commitment to "active support" for denuclearization and permanent peace on the peninsula, Cho added.
During ensuing closed-door roundtable discussions, Liu Siyang, vice president of Xinhua, asked Moon about his view on how to turn around a slump in the global economy, Moon reiterated a call for free trade against protectionism, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung.
He was also quoted as saying that South Korea will make its utmost effort for the formal signing of the RCEP agreement next year.
Sergei Mikhailov, head of TASS, said that peace on the Korean Peninsula is important to peace and stability in the world. And Moon said Seoul-Moscow relations are also important in his administration's New Northern Policy.
"I expect economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries to get more active," Moon said
according to Ko.
OANA, which was formed in 1961 on the initiative of UNESCO to promote regional news exchanges, has held its general assembly every three years. A total of 43 news agencies from 35 Asia-Pacific countries are members of the organization.