Delhi, Seoul move to re-engage as new South Korean leader's envoy meets Modi

Delhi, Seoul move to re-engage as new South Korean leader's envoy meets Modi
India and South Korea this week moved fast to re-engage after a political turmoil in Seoul ended last month with Moon Jae-In being elected as the new President.

Moon's special envoy Dongchea Chung called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Saturday – just two days after Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley met the new South Korean President himself in Seoul. The moves by New Delhi and Seoul to reach out to each other came just weeks after Moon was elected to the top office, ending the political turmoil over the impeachment of his predecessor Park Geun-Hye.

Modi told Dongchea that he was committed to work with Moon “for further enhancement” of the bilateral relationship between India and South Korea. He noted that Korea was an important development partner of India, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

“Prime Minister welcomed the deepening of bilateral partnership not only in trade and economic spheres but also in new areas like defence cooperation,” official spokesperson of the MEA, Gopal Baglay, said.

Jaitley on Thursday conveyed to Moon in Seoul that the new South Korean President's efforts to improve ties between his country and its neighbours in Asia will benefit many. Jaitley underlined that such initiatives coincided with New Delhi’s Act East policy, he emphasised India's conviction that an internationally-minded South Korea is good for both Asia and for other nations, according to a press release issued here.

Moon already moved to mend Seoul's ties with China after the relations between the two came under stress over the deployment of US missile defence system in South Korea.

He also moved to improve ties between South Korea and Japan. He, however, stated that Seoul would continue to maintain close cooperation with the US, even South Korea would make more efforts to settle its dispute with North Korea and bring peace to Korean Peninsula.

Dongchea also had a meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday and discussed adding fresh momentum into the relations between India and South Korea, which was elevated to the status of the special strategic partnership during Prime Minister's visit to Seoul in may 2015.

Moon's Special Envoy and External Affairs Minister agreed to explore the possibility of holding the meetings of India South Korea joint commission in the coming months. They also agreed that the meeting between defence and foreign secretaries of India and their South Korean counterparts in 2+2 format should be held at an early date. The 2+2 dialogue format was agreed upon during Prime Minister's visit to Seoul when he and the then South Korean President had agreed to step up defence cooperation.

India and South Korea had last April signed an inter-governmental Memorandum of Understanding for Defence Industry Co-operation in Shipbuilding. The MoU would enable Hindustan Shipyards Limited to upgrade and modernise its facilities and execute naval shipbuilding projects in a timely and cost effective manner in collaboration with a shipyard in Korea.

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