SEOUL, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to host an inaugural summit with Pacific island nations next year as Seoul seeks to expand its diplomatic influence in the region, the prime minister's office said Tuesday.
The plan was approved at a Cabinet meeting presided by Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, the office said.
Holding summit talks with leaders of Pacific island nations is aimed at "promoting the expansion of diplomatic horizons to the Pacific region, where strategic importance is increasing in line with the vision of becoming a globally central country contributing to freedom, peace, and prosperity," the office said.
The plan comes as the United States is stepping up its cooperation with Pacific island nations at a time when China is courting the region.
South Korea also plans to bolster cooperation with Pacific island nations to help it host the World Expo in the southern port city of Busan in 2030, according to officials.
Last November, foreign ministers from South Korea and 14 Pacific island nations held virtual talks during which they agreed to hold a summit of their leaders.
As they agreed to expand cooperation on climate change and other issues of regional concern, the top diplomats also agreed to increase the frequency of their talks, from once every three years to every other year.
Since 2011, South Korea and the 14 Pacific island nations have held talks of foreign ministers.