Four agreements signed

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: India and South Korea on Monday resolved to enhance bilateral ties to the level of strategic partnership by extending their relationship to the nuclear sector and developing closer security and defence ties.

The two countries signed four pacts in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. In the nuclear field, they also agreed to facilitate development of a framework for civil nuclear cooperation.

South Korea is the third largest investor in India and among the few countries with which a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) has been signed. It is also a member of the Asean (Association of South-East Asian Nations) plus three format with whom India wants to forge closer political and economic ties.

India and South Korea identified concrete measures to improve political and security cooperation by resolving to hold the next meeting of the bilateral Joint Commission, co-chaired by Foreign Affairs Ministers during the current year and upgrade the Foreign Policy and Security Dialogue to Secretary-level officials.

On the defence side, it was agreed that potential existed to extend the partnership to joint research and development and co-production level.

The joint panel on defence logistics and industry will deliberate on the issue during the first half of 2010.

India and South Korea also set a $30-billion target for bilateral trade by 2014.

The two leaders welcomed the signing of the pact on cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) and hoped that the MoU will facilitate strong cooperation between the two countries in this important sector.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Singh noted the “great admiration” in India for the progress made by South Korea and expressed the desire to learn from the Korean experience as India enhanced its efforts to achieve rapid and inclusive growth.

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