South Korea and Uzbekistan on Thursday agreed to boost their joint construction and development projects in the Central Asian country and enhance cooperation in the legal, tourism and financial sectors, Cheong Wa Dae said Thursday.
Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov reached the agreement during their summit talks in Seoul. Karimov came here on Wednesday for a three-day state visit.
“The two countries’ cooperative ties have strengthened in areas of economy, trade, investment and finance,” said the joint statement. “Based on the strategic partnership signed in March 2006, the bilateral relationship has widened and deepened.”
The joint projects include the construction of a gas and chemicals plant in the Surgil gas field near the Aral Sea ― the largest-ever bilateral project in the energy area since the countries established diplomatic relations in 1992.
They also agreed to continue bilateral cooperation in refurbishing Uzbekistan’s Navoi airport into a world-class logistics center and creating a special economic zone in the southwestern part of the country.
After the bilateral talks, the two nations signed four agreements on judicial assistance in civil and commercial matters, protection of classified military information, cooperation in tourism and financial supervision.
“Amid unstable global financial and economic conditions, Uzbekistan has continued its economic growth,” Lee was quoted by his aide as saying during the summit meeting.
“Korea will expand investment cooperation. And in the areas of education, health, communications technology, energy conservation, agriculture and environment, it will provide financial and technological support for the implementation of crucial projects in Uzbekistan.”
Calling Korea a “trustable country,” Karimov expressed hopes that the two countries can continue close cooperation not only in the gas and oil sectors, but also in information and technology, electronic governance and mineral resources development, Lee’s office said.
Karimov also said that he wanted to invite a Korean IT specialist to be a vice ministerial-level figure for the Uzbekistani government to expand cooperation in the area.
Seoul plans to provide cooperation for economic and social development in Uzbekistan via the Economic Development Cooperation Fund, a state-run fund aimed at helping developing states, and the Export-Import Bank of Korea.
Lee and Karimov also agreed to strengthen joint cooperation within international organizations such as the United Nations in order to deal with regional and global peace and security, Lee’s office said.
On the issue of North Korea, Karimov reaffirmed that he supports Seoul’s efforts to maintain peace and security on the Korean Peninsula, denuclearize the North and improve inter-Korean ties, the office said.
Lee has held talks with Karimov every year since his inauguration in early 2008. Thursday’s meeting was their sixth summit.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org)