President Park Geun-hye and Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed Wednesday to strengthen bilateral economic and cultural ties at their summit in Manila, the Philippines.
They met on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit and discussed a wide range of issues including bilateral trade, climate change and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
It was Park’s first summit with Trudeau, who took office last month after ending Stephen Harper’s nearly 10-year reign as prime minister. Park previously held a summit with Harper last year in Ottawa where the two agreed to upgrade bilateral relations to form a strategic partnership.
The APEC meeting also drew attention, given that the two leaders’ fathers also served as heads of state for their respective countries.
“Congratulations on the prime minister’s big election win, I hope that his leadership will deliver a real change to Canada,” Park said during the meeting, referencing Trudeau’s victory speech in which he said it’s time for “a real change” in Canada.
Trudeau’s father, Pierre Trudeau, also served as prime minister of Canada for almost 16 years. Park praised the elder Trudeau’s efforts to advance relations with the Asian region.
“I believe that the (younger) prime minister will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region,” she said.
A free trade agreement (FTA) between Korea and Canada went into effect earlier this year, a move that could further boost bilateral trade and investment.
Trudeau described the free trade deal as a “great one, but we need to work on building better business ties and moving forward with our friendship and partnership.”
The 43-year-old prime minister is in the global spotlight on the back of his reformist image as well as his physical appearance and sociability.
Park also held a separate summit with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to discuss ways to boost substantial cooperation in defense, the economy and other areas, as well as security of Korean citizens in the Philippines.
Crimes against Koreans in the Philippines have been on a steady rise in recent years. Nine Koreans have been murdered there this year alone.
After the summits, Park began her official schedule at the APEC summit, attending a session of the APEC Business Advisory Council and holding an unofficial dialogue with the Pacific Alliance, a Latin American trade bloc composed of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.