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Media release

18 November 2008

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to the Republic of Korea

Mr Sam Gerovich is to be Australia’s new Ambassador to the Republic of Korea succeeding Mr Peter Rowe who has been Ambassador since January 2006.

Mr Gerovich is expected to take up his appointment in March 2009. He will have concurrent accreditation to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Australia enjoys a close and diverse relationship with the Republic of Korea (ROK). Links were forged during the Korean War and have grown and broadened in the following decades. We have a strong and highly complementary economic relationship. The ROK is Australia's fourth-largest export market and sixth-largest overall trading partner.

During the Prime Minister’s visit to Seoul in August, he and ROK President Lee Myung-bak agreed Australia and the ROK would commence preparatory talks on a bilateral Free Trade Agreement.

Reflecting our shared interests in regional security and our record of working together in peace keeping operations around the world, they also agreed to examine further opportunities to expand and develop the bilateral security relationship.

Australia has a policy of active engagement with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). In particular, Australia encourages the DPRK to participate actively in the Six-Party Talks which aim to bring about a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. Australia has made clear to the DPRK that substantial progress on denuclearisation will allow us to consider resuming bilateral development assistance and other steps forward in the bilateral relationship.

Australia is a consistent donor of humanitarian assistance for the North Korean people through UN agencies and the Red Cross, without linkage to the nuclear issue or other political considerations.

Mr Gerovich is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently First Assistant Secretary, North Asia Division. Prior to this, he was First Assistant Secretary, Diplomatic Security, Information Management and Services Division (2006-08).

Mr Gerovich has had extensive experience in North Asia. He has served three times in the Australian Embassy in Beijing, including as Deputy Head of Mission (1992-97). He was Australia’s Consul-General in Shanghai (2002-06). From 1997‑2001, he was Australia’s unofficial representative in Taiwan when he headed the Australian Commerce and Industry Office in Taipei. Mr Gerovich also had earlier postings in Tokyo and in Hong Kong. He speaks Chinese and Japanese.

Mr Gerovich was educated at the University of Sydney where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours. He also holds a Certificate of Chinese Studies from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Mr Gerovich is married with two adult children.

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