Seoul: India on Monday signed a "historic"
civil nuclear cooperation agreement with South Korea, paving
the way for the possibility of Seoul exporting its atomic
The agreement, signed after summit talks between
President Pratibha Patil and her South Korean counterpart Lee
Myung-bak, provides legal ground for South Korea`s
participation in atomic power plant construction projects in
Lee termed the nuclear cooperation agreement as
"historic" and will act as "a milestone, demonstrating that
our two countries have now truly become strategic partners."
South Korea has now become the ninth country which had
signed nuclear agreement with India after it got the waiver
from the Nuclear Suppliers` Group (NSG) in 2008.
The other countries are the US, France, Russia,
Canada, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina and Namibia.
"The two countries have just concluded and signed a
bilateral agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of
nuclear energy," said Sanjay Singh, Secretary (East), Ministry
of External Affairs.
"It is like other civil nuclear agreements signed
between India and other countries. We look forward to Republic
of Korea for becoming one more partner in the development of
civil nuclear energy in India," the official said without
divulging further details on the agreement and its mandate but
termed the deal as a "win-win" for both the nations.
South Korean presidential spokesman Park Jeong-ha said
he anticipates that the two countries could launch
negotiations on a reactor construction project in the future.
Both India and South Korea decided to start talks on
civil nuclear cooperation during a meeting between Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and Lee on the sidelines of the ASEAN
Summit in Hanoi in October last year.
The nuclear agreement was signed by Dr Srikumar
Banerjee, Secretary Department of Atomic Energy and Kim Sung
Hwan, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea.
Earlier, Patil and her South Korean counterpart Lee
held a 20-minute restrictive meeting followed by a delegation
level talks for over an hour at the `Blue House`, official
residence of the Korean President.
Patil is on a week-long tour of Korea and Mongolia.
Besides the agreement on nuclear cooperation, the two
sides also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on media
exchanges and another agreement on administrative arrangements
to provide social security to people working in India and
The MoU on media was signed by Singh and Choung
Byoung-gug, Minister for Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The third agreement for administrative arrangements
for social security was signed by Skand Ranjan Tayal,
Ambassador of India to South Korea and Chin Soo Hea, Minister
of Health and Welfare.
Speaking at a banquet hosted by Lee in her honour,
Patil said India would work with South Korea to enhance trade
relations and tap investments opportunities emerging from new
"Korean companies have become household names in
India, and some of our best business houses are also investing
in your country. We will work towards maintaining and
enhancing these trends," she said.
Patil acknowledged the presence of Korean companies in
Indian market and growing bilateral trade and called for
stepping up the dialogues to discuss regional issues.
"In contemporary times, Korean industry has become
legendary, and coupled with India`s dynamically growing
market, we have new economic opportunities which did not exist
That we are making full use of such openings, can be
seen from the fact that our bilateral trade grew 40 per cent
in 2010, and is continuing to show a similar trajectory this
year too," Patil said.
She also called for greater people-to-people contacts
between the two countries and cooperation in the UN.
Korean President Lee expressed hope that Patil`s visit
will give a fillip to bilateral ties. "I firmly believe that
Your Excellency`s visit will generate further momentum for the
deepening of our cooperation," he said.
Besides, Patil invited Korean companies to invest in
India and explore business opportunities.
Both the Presidents agreed to encourage greater
people-to-people exchanges and stressed to start more direct
flights between India and South Korea.