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India, S Korea to expand security and trade ties

India and South Korea on Sunday decided to expand their political and security cooperation besides upgrading the already booming business ties.



Seoul: India and South Korea on Sunday decided to expand their political and security cooperation besides upgrading the already booming business ties to achieve an ambitious trade target of USD 40 billion by 2015.
During his talks with President Lee Myung-bak, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh noted that bilateral trade had risen by 65 percent over the past two years since the two countries implemented the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
"We have therefore set a new target of USD 40 billion by 2015. We also agreed to accelerate work in progress to upgrade the Agreement and make it more ambitious," Singh told reporters after wide-ranging talks with Lee.

Since the implementation of CEPA from January 1, 2010, bilateral trade had crossed USD 20 billion mark in 2011. Today`s announcement enhances the trade target set by the leaders to USD 40 billion by 2015 as against USD 30 billion by 2015 as decided earlier.

Responding to Lee`s call, Singh agreed to expand the political and security cooperation between the two countries.

"With this objective in mind, I informed President Lee of India`s decision to position a Defence Attache at our Embassy here in Seoul before the end of the year," he said.

"India has also offered to launch Korean satellites on Indian space launch vehicles," Singh said.

Singh and Lee also agreed to enhance cooperation and coordination on regional issues, including in the East Asia Summit process.

Singh arrived here yesterday for a four-day visit to attend a Nuclear Security Summit here. The two-day summit begins tomorrow when world leaders will meet at over dinner.

Singh and Lee also discussed ways and means to enhance cooperation between our scientists and technicians, including how to operationalise a joint Science and Technology Fund of USD 10 million.

"India has also offered to launch Korean satellites on Indian space launch vehicles," Singh said. Singh and Lee also shared views on the situation the Gulf, West Asia and North Africa and expressed concern at a number of flashpoints that could endanger peace and security in Asia and beyond.

The Prime Minister also invited Korean businessmen to invest in India in a big way and underlined that India was making a huge effort to upgrade its physical infrastructure.

"We want the Korean companies to help us realise this objective and benefit from the opportunities provided by this," Singh said.

Since the implementation of CEPA from January 1, 2010, bilateral trade had crossed USD 20 billion mark in 2011. Today`s announcement enhances the trade target set by the leaders to USD 40 billion by 2015 as against USD 30 billion by 2015 as decided earlier.

India and Korea also signed an agreement on simplifying visa procedures. This agreement will make travelling easier for business persons, the Prime Minister said.

Noting that companies such as LG, Hyundai and Samsung were already household names in India, Singh said he would like to see small and medium sized Korean companies also making India a base for their manufacturing.

Singh also updated his host of the development in the re-establishment of the Nalanda University and that he looked forward to Korean participation in the project.

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and the Republic of Korea and the two countries also agreed to celebrate the occasion in a befitting manner.

In the joint statement, the two leaders also agreed to explore constructive and forward looking ways to facilitate greater market access to each other`s products and services.

Prime Minister Singh said that the Indian side was hopeful of providing Korea with pharmaceutical and agricultural products, as well as, IT enabled services.

They reiterated the pressing need for all countries and international financial institutions to work in tandem in order to overcome the crisis affecting each and every nation due to the "very difficult" global and financial situation.

Singh and Lee also agreed to step up consultations including those in the G20 process to enhance transparency and cooperation in both regional and global economic structures.

They underlined their strong commitment to the peaceful settlement of issues, without resorting to force or the threat of use of force, it said.

The two sides also agreed to continue high-level defence exchanges and "explore the possibilities of joint ventures in research and development, and manufacture of military equipment through the transfer of technology and co-production," it said.

As part of high-level defence exchanges, South Korean Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin will visit India in the second half of the year in return for the 2010 visit by his Indian counterpart, the statement said.

On North Korea, Singh and Lee shared an understanding on the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, including its denuclearisation, the statement said.

"Noting North Korea`s announcement ... that it plans to launch the so-called `application satellite,` they urged that nothing should be done which increases tensions in the region and violates the relevant UN Security Council resolutions," the statement said.

The two leaders also reaffirmed the importance of joint efforts at nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, it said.

PTI

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