South Korea and India on Monday signed a nuclear energy cooperation pact that will allow Seoul firms to sell atomic power plants in India’s multi-billion-dollar nuclear energy market, Korean officials said.
President Lee Myung-bak and his Indian counterpart Pratibha Patil signed the agreement after their summit talks in Seoul. The agreement, forged after years of discussions, will provide South Korean companies with legal grounds on which to officially take part in massive atomic power plant construction projects in India, according to South Korea’s presidential office.
|President Lee Myung-bak greets Indian President Pratibha Patil ahead of their summit at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Monday. (Joint Press Corps)|
The two countries began to discuss the pact on nuclear energy cooperation in June last year when Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna visited Seoul.
India currently has 20 power-generating nuclear reactors in operation, six under construction, and plans to build about 40 more by 2032. Other countries, such as the U.S. and Russia, are also keen to take part in the fast-developing country’s nuclear power plant construction project.
In 2009, South Korea proved its competiveness in the area by winning a $20 billion project to build four atomic power plants in the United Arab Emirates over rivals such as the U.S., France and Japan.
During the summit Monday, the two leaders hailed the strengthened diplomatic and economic cooperation between their countries, and agreed to expand cooperation in security and defense, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.
They also agreed to update their free trade deal by reflecting changes in the trade environment since the pact went into effect in January last year. Also discussed were cultural and human-to-human exchange programs to promote friendliness and familiarity among the peoples of the two countries, it also said in a statement.
The Indian president arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a four-day trip at President Lee’s invitation. On her visit, Patil also laid flowers at a bronze bust sculpture of Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore that was recently erected in Seoul to mark the 150th birth anniversary of the late world-famous poet.
In an interview she held with local media prior to her trip to Seoul, Patil said her country made the recent decision to send food to North Korea based on its grave food shortages, hinting at more aid in the future.
By Shin Hae-in (firstname.lastname@example.org)