By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, June 2 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk Yeol met with East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta on Friday and discussed bilateral relations, cooperation on the international stage and North Korea's nuclear threat, his office said.
The meeting came as Ramos-Horta was in South Korea to attend the Jeju Forum on the southern island of the same name.
The two leaders noted that their countries' special relationship, which began as South Korea sent U.N. peacekeeping troops to East Timor in 1999 to support its independence, has developed constantly, according to presidential spokesperson Lee Do-woon.
They also agreed to cooperate more substantively in various areas such as development, labor, education and forestry.
Yoon asked Ramos-Horta for his special interest and assistance for Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) volunteers working in East Timor in the health, education and environment sectors.
He also congratulated East Timor on gaining observer status in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) last year ahead of its formal membership, saying South Korea looks forward to enhancing cooperation with East Timor through ASEAN, based on the
Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative.
Ramos-Horta said he is greatly inspired by South Korea's remarkable development and innovation, and asked that the South Korean government and businesses take part in his country's economic development.
He also expressed hope for East Timor's inclusion in South Korea's program to strengthen human resource capabilities in ASEAN nations, with scholarship benefits to enable East Timorese students to study in South Korea.
He further expressed his country's active support for South Korea's bids to host the 2030 World Expo in the southeastern port city of Busan and become a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council.
On North Korea's ballistic missile launch carried out under the pretext of a reconnaissance satellite this week, the two leaders condemned the launch as an illegal act in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Ramos-Horta said he will actively take part in the international community's firm and united response to North Korea and call out the regime's actions through various international platforms.