Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Korean President Lee Myung-bak held a restricted summit meeting on 25 March, followed by delegation level talks. During the summit meeting, the two leaders conducted a thorough review of and hailed the multifaceted bilateral relationship, with has rapidly acquired greater depth and vitality since its elevation to a Strategic Partnership during the landmark State visit to India of President Lee in January 2010. Both leaders held wide-ranging discussions on regional, international and multilateral issues.
The two leaders noted with satisfaction that bilateral trade had increased by around 70 percent in two years since the entry into force by the India-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on 1 January, 2010, crossing the $ 20 billion mark in 2011. The two countries agreed to double their current value of bilateral trade to & 40 billion by 2015.
Prime Minister Singh apprised his host of India’s efforts to strengthen the national infrastructure and plans to invest $ 1 trillion in infrastructure development between 2012-17. Noting the enviable track record of Korean companies in successfully executing infrastructure projects all over the globe, he invited them to actively participate in the construction projects for highways, ports, airports, metros and power plants being regularly launched in India. The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of implementing the POSCO project in the state of Orissa. Manmohan Singh informed the South Korean President on the current status of the POSCO project and assured him that every step was being taken for an early implementation of the project.
Prime Minister Singh and President Lee pledged to enhance cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space as envisaged in the MOU on cooperation between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). The two leaders proposed that the concerned agencies of both countries study the possible cooperation in future space activities including launching a nano-satellite developed by Korean students on an Indian launch vehicle. The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the conclusion of a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement during the State visit of the President of India to Korea in July 2011. President Lee requested that the Indian Government allocate a site for Korean nuclear reactors.
Prime Minister Singh and President Lee exchanged views on the global economic and financial situation, which continues to be very difficult. They agreed to step up consultations including those in the G20 process to enhance transparence and cooperation in both regional and global economic structures. The two leaders also recognized the need for comprehensive UN reforms including Security Council expansion to make the body even more representative and effective. Prime Minister Singh emphasized India’s aspirations for a greater role in the reformed UN Security Council.
The two leaders shared their views on the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula including its denuclearization. Noting North Korea’s announcement made on March 16, 2012 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 two leaders reiterated their common commitment to nuclear disarmament and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. They attached importance of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit in strengthening international efforts to address the challenge of nuclear terrorism.
The two leaders agreed to expand cooperation and coordination between their countries within the East Asia Summit (EAS), which they acknowledged should continue to remain an ASEAN-led, open, transparent and inclusive structure. They welcomed the inclusion of the United States and the Russian Federation in the EAS. The two leaders welcomed the commencement of a Trilateral India-Korea-Japan dialogue amongst think-tanks of the three countries, the first of which will be held in Delhi IN 2012.
Prime Minister Singh also informed President Lee the rapid progress in the establishment of the new Nalanda University as a symbol of excellence in learning in a resurgent Asia. President Le stated the Korea welcomed the progress in re-establishing this premier educational institution and would examine possible ways to contribute.
The two leaders welcomed the signing of the “agreement on Simplification of Visa Procedures” and “MOU on Cooperation between KNDA (Korea National Diplomatic Academy) and FSI (Foreign Service Institute)
Prime Minister Singh and President Lee welcomed regular bilateral high level visits, which have become a hallmark of the relationship and observed that the Official visit of the Prime Minister of India to Korea contribute immeasurably deepening and expanding the Strategic Partnership between the two countries.
( Writer is a Research Scholar at Academy of East Asian Studies, Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul)
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