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India positive on getting Seoul's support at NSG
Ajay Kaul in Seoul | September 17, 2007 18:40 IST
India on Monday sounded positive on getting South Korea's support at the Nuclear Suppliers Group after the issue came up for discussion between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his counterpart Song Min-soon in Seoul.
The two countries also expressed a desire to give a strategic dimension to their bilateral relations as they agreed to negotiate a Maritime Agreement and decided to conclude the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement by the year-end and Double Taxation Avoidance agreement by next year.
The nuclear issue came up during talks between Mukherjee and Song considering that South Korea is a member of NSG and India has to seek changes in guidelines of the 45-nation grouping to allow international community to have trade with it in the field.
"They are aware of our concerns for access to civil nuclear energy," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said after the talks.
"As and when the matter is taken up at the NSG, we hope they may take a positive view," he said when asked about South Korea's view on India's aspiration for civil nuclear energy.
Besides holding talks with Song, Mukherjee met South Korean Defence Minister Kim Jang-soo and discussed ways in which bilateral relations could be enhanced in a comprehensive manner, particularly in defence and economic fields.
In the defence sector, the two sides decided to accelerate exchanges, including training of military personnel.
Noting the importance of security in sea lanes for free movement of goods and services, the two countries agreed to hold consultations in the matter, including under the framework of joint committee on defence.
They also decided to negotiate a Maritime Shipping Agreement.
Reviewing all areas of economic cooperation, the two sides expressed satisfaction at the "meaningful progress" in the negotiations on CEPA and agreed to conclude the pact by the end of the year to boost bilateral trade.
They expressed confidence that the trade target of $10 billion would be achieved by next year.
The $12 billion POSCO steel project, proposed in Orissa, came up for special mention as part of bilateral commercial activities.
Both sides emphasised the importance of the project and agreed to provide all possible assistance in expediting its implementation.
Mukherjee raised the issue of visa problems being faced by Indian businessmen in Seoul and the South Korean side agreed to liberalise the system.
The two sides will hold discussions in this regard and set up a working-level mechanism.
Among the regional issues, the ongoing talks over North Korea's controversial nuclear programme came up for discussion.
Mukherjee conveyed India's backing to the upcoming talks on the issue.