|Preparation for next month’s G20 summit in Seoul is picking up pace with the event just four weeks away.|
To feature high-level talks with EU President Herman Van Rompuy and leaders from five non-member countries that have been invited and seven international organizations, the summit is expected to be one of the largest diplomatic events hosted by Korea.
○ Struggle over seats
Along with 25 heads of state and 33 leading global figures including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn will attend the summit.
The Presidential Committee for the G20 Summit will not unveil the seating plan until right before the event because countries lobby for the order of protocol and seating. The seats will be assigned depending on each event considering the schedule of bilateral and multilateral talks, though the international order of protocol is applied in general.
In the end, the chair country has the right to form the seating arrangement.
The protocol follows the order of heads of state, heads of government, and representatives from international organizations. Within each group, the order of inauguration and year of an organization’s foundation will be considered.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was inaugurated in January 2003, will be first followed by Chinese President Hu Jintao (March 2003), and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (July 2004). The first among leaders from international organizations is the U.N. chief.
The committee for the G20 Summit reported a few options centered around President Lee Myung-bak: strictly following the order of protocol; giving seats beside President Lee to the U.K., previous chair country, France, and the next chair country; giving U.S. President Barack Obama a seat next to President Lee; or giving the seats to leaders that failed to hold bilateral talks with Seoul.
The presidential office will have the final say on the seating arrangement.
Seoul is also reportedly mulling holding a separate meeting with leaders from the six-party nuclear talks.
○ Humble opportunity to promote Korea.
The government decided on a “frugal but practical meeting” as the protocol concept of the summit. This is because if Seoul tries too hard to prepare an event to impress the world, this could prevent the formulation of measures to prevent another global financial crisis.
Korea is also considering recycling 90 percent of equipment used in the summit, including LED lighting, audio components and tables, given the event’s purpose of overcoming the economic crisis. The equipment could be reused at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit that Korea will also host.
A diplomatic source said, “Since most luncheons and dinners at the summit also serve as meetings, there will be no toast suggestions.”
As many as 50 private jets for heads of state are expected, and allocating more landings at Incheon, Gimpo and Seoul airports will be considered. Instead of government officials, delegation liaison officers (DLO) will greet the visitors.
The government will also strive to keep the flow of events by the second.
The reception and dinner on the opening day will be held at the National Museum of Korea. The government said that without special decoration, this architecture with outstanding beauty will be enough to let the world know about Korea.
After dinner, leaders will see the Seoul nightscape while riding the luxury sedan Hyundai Equus back to their hotels.
The Seoul COEX conference room, where the summit will take place, will be a circle with a circular table. The design was made in a way that leaders can come and go between the meeting and luncheon rooms and restrooms in a short time.
For security and smooth flow of the meeting, heads of state, finance ministers, and sherpas will use the Red Zone, representative delegations the Blue Zone, and journalists the Yellow Zone.