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India, South Korea to upgrade political, security ties

March 25, 2012 13:41 IST

India and South Korea on Sunday decided to expand their political and security cooperation besides upgrading the already booming business ties to achieve an ambitious trade target of USD 40 billion by 2015.

During his talks with President Lee Myung-bak, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh noted that bilateral trade had risen by 65 per cent over the past two years since the two countries implemented the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

"We have therefore set a new target of USD 40 billion by 2015. We also agreed to accelerate work in progress to upgrade the agreement and make it more ambitious," Singh told reporters after wide-ranging talks with Lee.

Since the implementation of CEPA from January 1, 2010, bilateral trade had crossed USD 20 billion mark in 2011. Sunday's announcement enhances the trade target set by the leaders to USD 40 billion by 2015 as against USD 30 billion by 2015 as decided earlier.

Responding to Lee's call, Singh agreed to expand the political and security cooperation between the two countries.

"With this objective in mind, I informed President Lee of India's decision to position a defence attache at our embassy in Seoul before the end of the year," he said.

"India has also offered to launch Korean satellites on Indian space launch vehicles," Singh said.

Singh and Lee also agreed to enhance cooperation and coordination on regional issues, including in the East Asia Summit process.

Singh arrived in Seoul on Saturday for a four-day visit to attend a Nuclear Security Summit. The two-day summit begins on Monday, when world leaders will meet at over dinner.

The prime minister also invited Korean businessmen to invest in India in a big way and underlined that India was making a huge effort to upgrade its physical infrastructure.

"We want the Korean companies to help us realise this objective and benefit from the opportunities provided by this," Singh said.

India and Korea also signed an agreement on simplifying visa procedures. This agreement will make travelling easier for business persons, the prime minister said.

Noting that companies such as LG, Hyundai and Samsung were already household names in India, Singh said he would like to see small and medium-sized Korean companies also making India a base for their manufacturing.

Singh and Lee also discussed ways and means to enhance cooperation between the scientists and technicians, including how to operationalise a joint science and technology fund of USD 10 million.

Singh also updated his host of the developments in the re-establishment of Nalanda University and that he looked forward to Korean participation in the project.

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and the Republic of Korea and the two countries also agreed to celebrate the occasion in a befitting manner.

Sagar Kulkarni in Seoul