Work on the Posco steel plant in Odisha to start soon, assures India

India and South Korea signed nine pacts aimed at imparting forward momentum to their bilateral ties that have seen intensification over the past four years.

During a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting South Korean President Park Geun-hye here on Thursday, India assured that work on the multi-billion-dollar Posco steel plant in Odisha would start in the coming weeks.

As Dr. Singh noted, the Agreement on the Protection of Classified Military Information would boost defence engagement and take it beyond the purchase of South Korean defence equipment to an area where Seoul is strong — maintaining the sanctity of its land and maritime borders.

Another forward looking aspect was exploring the possibility of setting up a Korean Industrial Park in India. South Korea is one of the few countries with a trade surplus with China and India’s intention is to not only to provide a new avenue for its industry suffering from sluggish growth in exports that account for half of the country’s GDP, but also get integrated in the global supply chain.

The two sides also announced the conclusion of negotiations for revision of the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Convention. “President Park and I have agreed to set up a CEOs Forum comprising captains of the industry and commerce from both countries to provide us with new ideas for deepening our econsomic collaboration,” Dr. Singh said in his media statement.

Mining concessions

On Posco, the Prime Minister also held out the promise of grant of mining concessions which are at an advanced stage of processing. “I conveyed to President Park our hope that this project will confirm that economic growth and environmental protection can go hand in hand,” he observed.

However, there was no comfort to South Korea on its desire to set up nuclear power plants in India. New Delhi has conveyed its intention to take up this proposal when it starts work on phase II of large nuclear power plants.

In order to further security cooperation, it was agreed to hold annual interactions between the national security structures of the two countries as also launch a Cyber Affairs Dialogue.

In Science and Technology, both countries will build on the experience of working on many practical projects financed through a $10 million Joint Fund by inking a MoU on Joint Applied Research. They also plan to step up collaboration in the peaceful uses of space science and technology.

Dr. Singh conveyed to Ms. Park his Government’s decision to extend a ‘tourist visa on arrival facility’ to South Korean nationals.

The two leaders also touched on regional issues, particularly developments in the Korean peninsula and cooperation in the East Asia Summit processes. Ms. Park said the Korean peninsula had been facing the threat of nuclear weapons and efforts must be made to ensure peace and stability in the region.

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