South Korea announces first state visit to Iran

Park Geun-Hye will become the first South Korean president to visit Iran next month, her office announced today, as Seoul seeks new markets to turn around a lengthy decline in export revenues.

AFP| Updated: Apr 18, 2016, 16:25 PM IST

Seoul: Park Geun-Hye will become the first South Korean president to visit Iran next month, her office announced today, as Seoul seeks new markets to turn around a lengthy decline in export revenues.

The May 1-3 visit comes just months after a historic deal that cleared a path to lift sanctions crippling Iran's economy in exchange for limits on its nuclear programme.

Despite Iran's suspected ties with North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, South Korea is keen to strengthen trade ties with the second-largest economy in the Middle East, and Park is expected to push for corporate deals including chemical and power plants, infrastructure and information technology.

Her visit will be the first by a South Korean president since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1962.

According to the presidential office in Seoul, Park's summit with her Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani will include discussions about the situation on the divided Korean peninsula.

Tensions between North and South Korea have been rising since Pyongyang conducted its fourth nuclear test in January, and Park noted today signs that a fifth test could be imminent.

Leaked US diplomatic cables in 2010 showed that US officials believe Iran acquired ballistic missile parts from North Korea, while a UN sanctions report in 2011 said the two countries were suspected of sharing ballistic missile technology.