South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to visit India this year: envoy

The two countries are hopeful of concluding ongoing negotiations to upgrade the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

February 28, 2024 09:56 pm | Updated February 29, 2024 05:35 pm IST - New Delhi

South Korean Ambassador to India Chang Jae-bok.

South Korean Ambassador to India Chang Jae-bok. | Photo Credit: Dinakar Peri

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is expected to visit India this year and the two countries are hopeful of concluding ongoing negotiations to upgrade the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) existing between the two countries, said South Korean envoy Chang Jae-bok said on Wednesday.

“During the last round of talks on CEPA upgrade held in January in Delhi, negotiators on both sides have committed to conclude talks within this year. Possibly before the visit by our President, we hope to conclude the negotiations,” Mr. Chang said in a press interaction.

On the possible timing of the Mr. Yoon’s state visit, the South Korean Ambassador to India stated, “We will have an in-depth discussion on it after the election, but hopefully the visit will happen within this year.”

The existing CEPA was made in 2009 and it became effective in 2010. Negotiations between the Ministry of Commerce of Korea and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India, for an upgraded CEPA were held in 2016 and 2017 but halted during the pandemic.

In this regard, on the ease of doing business, just after the G20 summit in September the Envoy had said, “We wish Indian authorities should work harder to make business environment more friendly to Korean businesses.” Further he had said South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol raised the issue of more friendly conditions and doing business in India during the bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi (sidelines of G20). We hope India will respond positively, he remarked.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar is scheduled to pay bilateral visits to South Korea and Japan from March 5-8. In Seoul on March 5 and 6, he will co-chair the 10th India-Republic of Korea Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) with his counterpart Cho Tae-yul. During the visit, Mr. Jaishankar is also expected to meet Korean dignitaries, heads of think tanks and members of the Indian community.

Mr. Chang said there will be discussions on defence, defence production and also economic cooperation. The Minister will also discuss regional and global issues, he stated.

On the 2+2 dialogue at the Vice Minister level that has been at the planning stage for long, Mr. Chang said that efforts are still on. Talks may first start at the Joint Secretary level and then upgrade to the Vice Minister level, he added.

On possible civil-nuclear cooperation between the two countries, the envoy said that Korea is interested in small modular reactors (SMR). Exchanges between experts should be done and there could be concrete results in the future, he stated.

South Korea has recently embarked on a space programme and is keen on cooperation with India. “We are going to launch Korea space administration very soon and we are looking to cooperate with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in low orbit satellites,” he said.

On the war in Ukraine, Mr. Chang said that Korea has been calling for an immediate end to the war as Russia’s actions are in violation of international law. He added, “It is also important to engage Russia constructively to end the war.”

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