Pacts on tourism, culture, and science reached
India, S. Korea to sign trade pact
India and South Korea on Friday agreed to conclude an investment guarantee agreement aimed at expanding trade and investment between the two countries.
In their first summit since setting up diplomatic relations 20 years ago, the two countries also decided to build strong and diversified bilateral relations.
The South Korean president, Mr. Kim Young-Sam, and the prime minister, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao, decided that officials would have working-level conferences to formulate the agreement as soon as possible.
Both the countries also decided to work together at the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement and in other international political fora and make efforts for the peaceful use of nuclear energy and prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Mr. Rao, who arrived here on Thursday on his first official visit held a 90-minute meeting with Mr. Kim.
Mr. Kim apprised Mr. Rao of Pyongyang’s designs and said North Korea’s nuclear development not only posed a danger to the Korean peninsula but also threatened the peace and stability of the Northeast Asia region. He sought India’s help in resolving the inter-Korean nuclear issue.
He said India, as a member of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should try to help stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Businessmen’s help sought
The prime minister specifically sought South Korean business participation in building infrastructure for highways and communications network and shipbuilding.
Mr. Kim promised that he would talk to Korean business leaders on India’s request. Since the two countries are in mutually complementary situations, he suggested that they conclude an investment guarantee agreement at the earliest possible.
Mr. Rao also told Mr. Kim that India is very much interested in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and wanted to become a member of the body.
While Mr. Rao asked for South Korean support in its bid to become an observer to the APEC, Mr. Kim said South Korea would communicate India’s desire to other APEC- member nations.
Mr. Kim asked Mr. Rao to provide his support for South Korean enterprises to take active part in India’s economic development projects.
The two countries also signed an agreement on tourism cooperation in the presence of both Mr. Rao and Mr. Kim. The agreement was signed by the minister of state for external affairs, Mr. Salman Khurshid and the South Korean foreign minister, Mr. Han Sung-Joo.
Other two agreements on culture and science were also signed between the two countries.
While Mr. Kim described Mr. Rao’s three-day visit as a turning point in bringing the two countries closer. The latter said he was happy to meet the first democratically elected president of South Korea and had his assessment about the developments in this part of the world.
Mr. Rao assured the South Korean president that the process of economic reform in India, which had already shown results, would inevitably be intensified.
Later, speaking at a banquet hosted in his honour by Mr. Kim, Mr. Rao said India favoured early realisation of the Korean people’s dream for the peaceful emergence of a reunified, strong and prosperous Korea.
He said that would be an important factor not only for the peace in Northeast Asia but for the continent and the world as a whole.
He appreciated the efforts made by South Korea towards peaceful reunification of Korea through bilateral discussions and negotiations with North Korea and its endeavour to contribute to stability, economic development and peaceful cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
Mr. Rao expressed admiration for South Korea building up a strong and vibrant economy and pursuing a dynamic, outward looking foreign policy directed at strengthening the independent policies in favour of peace and security in the region.
Speaking about the sweeping reforms and liberalisation of the Indian economy over the last two years, Mr. Rao said India was firmly set on the path of accelerated growth, rapid expansion of imports and exports and closer interaction with the global economy, particularly with the dynamic economics of East and Southeast Asia.
“We are committed to broadening and intensifying these reforms in the coming years. The Indian economy is the second largest in the developing world. Its 250 milling strong middle class provides a market for manufactured products, which is potentially among the largest in the world,” the prime minister added.
He said the end of Cold War and the changing international scenario provided fresh opportunities to embark on a new era of relationship between the two countries, particularly in increasing trade and economic exchange.