New Delhi, Mar 21 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, will pay a three-day visit to South Korea beginning on Saturday to strengthen strategic partnership and economic cooperation.
Following the bilateral visit to South Korea, Dr. Singh will attend the second Nuclear Security Summit scheduled to take place in Seoul on March 26 and 27.
Interacting with the media here today, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai pointed out that the main objective of the Nuclear Security Summit process has been high-level attention on the global threat posed by nuclear terrorism and the measures that are required to prevent terrorists and other non-state actors from gaining access to sensitive nuclear materials and technologies.
"While nuclear security is a national resposibility there is scope for international cooperation. The IAEA has a central role in strengthening the international nuclear security framework," said Mathai.
"The Seoul Summit is intended to take stock of progress in implementation of the Communiqu? and Work Plan of the Washington Summit as well as agree on new measures that would be reflected in the Summit Communiqu?. A number of countries are expected to speak on steps taken to strengthen nuclear security after the Washington Summit in the form of national progress reports. These will be made public during the Summit," he added.
Asserting that India is committed to the success of the Nuclear Security Summit process, Mathai said: " PM's participation in the Seoul Summit as well as the first Summit in Washington is demonstration of our high level commitment."
Mathai informed the visit to South Korea is the second bilateral visit by a Prime Minister of India.
"The last visit was in 1993 by the then PM, Shri Narasimha Rao. President Lee Myung-buk had visited India on a State visit as Chief Guest for the Republic Day in 2010 and our President had visited RoK in July 2011," he said.
Dr. Manmohan Singh will hold discussions with President Lee both in restricted and delegation-level formats during his visit.
Asserting that India and South Korea have a Strategic Partnership since 2010, Mathai said: " The architecture of bilateral political discussions is well established. The two Foreign Ministers co-chair a Joint Commission. The last meeting was held in June 2010. The next meeting is expected to be held later this year. A Foreign Policy and Security Dialogue at the level of Secretary (East) and Vice Foreign Minister discuss overarching regional matters as well as economic and security issues."
Mathai said the bilateral trade between the two nations has picked up considerably since the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Republic of Korea came into effect in January 2010.
"In the last two years, bilateral trade has grown 65 percent to reach $20.5 billion last year. We have established a target of US$30 billion by 2014, which is achievable. Over 300 South Korean companies are present in India, with actual investment worth US$ 2.3 billion. Indian investment in Korea is also substantial with Tata Motors and the Mahindra Group having made important strategic investments there," he said.
Mathai further said India expects a visit by the Defence Minister of Republic of Korea later this year.
Stating that the parliamentary exchanges between the two sides have also been robust, Mathai said: " The Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Speaker of the Korean National assembly have exchanged visits in 2011. Cultural exchanges are progressing well. The ICCR established an Indian Cultural center in Seoul in 2011 and a Korean Cultural Center is expected to be inaugurated later this year." (ANI)
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