Gov't officials, civil leaders agree on online safety cooperation

SEOUL, Oct. 18 (Yonhap) -- Foreign and information technology ministers from around the world agreed to cooperate in securing online safety and freedom as an international conference on cyberspace finished its two-day run in Seoul on Friday.

Wrapping up the conference, called the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace 2013, participating foreign and information technology ministers made commitments that were laid out in the chair's summary, released under the name of South Korean Minister Yun Byung-se, along with two annexed documents.

The Seoul conference, held at the COEX convention center in southern Seoul, brought together about 1,600 government and corporate officials, civil leaders, international organization heads and experts from 87 foreign countries, including 12 foreign ministers and 10 other information technology ministers across the globe.

The global leaders' goals included international cooperation to help more people gain access to the Internet. They also focused on bolstering freedom of expression online as well as cyber-sphere security, according to a copy of the document, called the Seoul Frameworks and Commitments, released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In addition, the parties agreed to make efforts to resolve cyber crimes and close a digital divide between well-to-do countries and less developed nations.

"The results of this meeting, laid out in the annexed documents, showed that the global community shared the need to prepare for new (types of) threats in cyberspace as well as confirming the necessity of global cooperation to establish global norms," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Overall, the Seoul meeting helped form global awareness over the importance of global collaboration in the cyber sphere, the statement also said, reflecting the difficulties in mustering a global consensus in cyber-sphere regulations.

Cyberspace is one of many sectors in which the international community has been unable to establish uniform regulations. Countries have long been advocating for different levels of freedom and security online.

England hosted the inaugural meeting of the cyberspace conference in London in 2011 in an effort to strengthen global efforts on the issue. Hungary organized the second meeting last year.

The Seoul ministry said the next gathering, which will be the fourth, will be held in the Netherlands in 2015.

On Thursday, United Nations' Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the global community should bring the world together to increase Internet freedom and defuse cyberspace threats, a call echoed by foreign ministers from around the world.

Some African and South American guests were newly invited to the gathering, which previously focused mainly on European guests, in order to better discuss collaboration between developed and developing countries in the cyber sphere.

South Korea's vice foreign minister said that South Korea is committed to joining the global efforts to help developing countries foster an Internet economy.

"The Korean government hoped to provide the opportunity for different stakeholders to share constructive ideas on how developing countries can effectively foster an Internet economy and address growing cyber threats," Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul said in a speech.

"I can assure you that, in line with our vision for an Era of Global Happiness, we will continue to actively take part in global efforts to help developing countries promote dignity and happiness for all," Cho said, referring to President Park Geun-hye's signature happiness-promoting public policy campaign.

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>