(LEAD) Yoon pledges US$24 mln to CEPI to help fight against infectious diseases

President Yoon Suk Yeol on Saturday pledged an additional US$24 million in contributions from South Korea to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), his office said.

Yoon made the pledge while addressing an expanded session of the Group of Seven (G-7) summit, offering an amount nearly triple what South Korea has contributed so far to CEPI, a senior presidential official told reporters.

CEPI is an Oslo-based international public-private partnership to finance independent research projects to develop vaccines against emerging viral threats.

During the session, which dealt with issues of food security, health, development and gender, Yoon also announced plans to expand the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), a partnership involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and South Korea, China and Japan.

The goals of the APTERR are to strengthen food security, alleviate poverty and eradicate malnourishment among its member states without distorting normal trade.

Also during the session, Yoon said South Korea will help strengthen rice production capacity in seven poor African countries through the so-called "K-rice belt" project.

The project aims to share South Korea's rice production technologies with sub-Saharan countries from coast to coast, with a trial program currently under way in six nations, including Senegal, Cameroon and Uganda.

Starting next year, the number of countries will increase to seven or more, including Kenya.

Yoon also pledged to double the volume of South Korea's rice aid to developing nations via the U.N. World Food Program by increasing the annual amount from 50,000 tons to 100,000 tons starting next year.

The president later attended the second expanded session, dealing with climate, energy and environment issues, and emphasized South Korea's plans to actively cooperate with the G-7 to resolve climate issues, according to Choi Sang-mok, senior presidential secretary for economic affairs.

In particular, Yoon announced South Korea's decision to join the Climate Club established by the G-7 and actively push for carbon neutrality policies while fostering new low-carbon industries.

He also vowed to expand South Korea's official development assistance related to green technology, Choi told reporters.

Source: Yonhap News Agency