South Korea eyeing nuclear cooperation with India: Officials

Lee will embark on a four-day visit to India on Sunday, his first overseas travel this year, during which he will hold a summit with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and will be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade.

Lee will seek to expand his country's relations with India beyond their traditional economic cooperation to a strategic partnership on diplomacy, security and global issues during his trip there next week, his aides said.

"The two sides plan to agree to (establish) a kind of (high-level) strategic dialogue on the political and security fields," Cheong Wa Dae, a senior official at the presidential office was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.
When former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun visited India in 2004, the two countries agreed to pursue a "long-term cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity."

"This time, we are in consultations with India to enhance the relationship by one notch," an official said.

Buoyed by a USD 20 billion contract with the United Arab Emirates to build four nuclear reactors there, South Korea is also trying to make inroads into India's nuclear energy market, the report said.

"First, South Korea needs to have a nuclear energy pact with India," an official said. "There is no such pact between the two sides. There will be related discussions (during President Lee's trip)."

India's Ambassador to South Korea, Skand R Tayal also expressed hope for future bilateral cooperation in the nuclear power sector.
"South Korea's capacity to build and operate nuclear power plants is well-known," he said. "There have been preliminary contacts already between Korea Electric Power Corp. and India's Nuclear Power Corp. for possible partnership," Yonhap quoted Tayal as saying separately.

"India offers profitable opportunities to dynamic Korean companies to make India a base for manufacturing," he said.

"We are also looking for a strong partnership in the services sector. We hope that Indian IT companies would enter into major collaborative projects with Korean companies, which would be advantageous to both," the Indian envoy here said.
India and South Korea have significantly bolstered their economic cooperation recently, highlighted by their just-launched free trade deal, called the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Two-way trade totalled USD 15.5 billion in 2008 and the pact, which went into effect from January 1, is expected to boost trade volume by 15 per cent annually on average.
Lee and Singh will also agree to hold a joint committee meeting attended by their Trade Ministers in the later half of this year and lay out a joint vision for expanding mutual trade.

South Korea also needs to increase cooperation with India in diverse areas where they can create synergy by combining the competitive strengths of each nation, Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun said yesterday.

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