President Pratibha Patil on Sunday embarked on a week-long visit to South Korea and Mongolia during which she will hold discussions with her two counterparts on a wide range of issues like civil nuclear cooperation, trade and defence.

Ms. Patil will stay in Korea till July 26 and then visit Mongolia from July 27-30.

Her visit is part of India’s ‘Look East Policy’ to further mutual relationships with the countries known for manufacturing variety of home appliances and rich minerals besides other natural resources.

Besides meeting her counterparts in the two nations, she will attend a host of programmes. A number of important agreements will also be signed at both Seoul and Ulaanbaatar.

Ms. Patil will meet the business community in South Korea, which is home to various IT companies and home appliances giants including LG, Samsung and Daewoo.

South Korea with a GDP of about USD 1 trillion is spread in 99,327 sq. km. area, approximately 12 per cent larger than West Bengal, and has a 48.7 million population. The trade between India and Korea touched the USD 17 billion mark in 2010.

The President will also strongly pitch for a civil nuclear cooperation with her Korean counterpart during the visit.

The Indian community in Seoul is estimated to be about 8,000 and over 1,000 IT professionals and engineers are working in Korea. Besides, about 500 Indian scientists or post-doctoral scholars are doing research in that country.

She will also pay floral tributes at the statue of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in Seoul. The statue was inaugurated by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar during her visit to South Korea in May as part of the poet’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations.

Ms. Patil’s visit to Mongolia is aimed at finding new avenues in trade and cultural relationship with tie ups in defence, IT, trade and mining.

About 92 per cent of the population in the country follows Buddhism. Mongolia shares its border with China and Russia and has a GDP of USD 6.6 billion.

India exports pharmaceutical products, veterinary medicines, automobiles and its parts to Mongolia and the trade between the two nations has touched USD 16.9 million.

Mongolia has established free trade zones on its border points with China and Russia and is pursuing the policy of attracting foreign investments and considered as Most Favoured Nation (MFN).

Ms. Patil will be the first Indian President to visit Mongolia after a gap of 23 years.

During her visit, Ms. Patil will meet President Ts Elbedorj and women politicos there. She will also pay homage at a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, installed in 2006.

The Mongolian President had in September 2009 visited India and signed several mutual agreements for comprehensive partnership.

The visit also seeks to explore ties for providing assistance in exploration of mines as Mongolia is a mineral-rich country and holds vast scope in this sector.

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