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Prime Minister Kim visits Mexico, Canada

Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik arrived in Mexico on Friday to meet its new leader and discuss a free trade deal, his office here said.

On the first day of his three-day stay in Mexico, as the first leg of his weeklong trip that will also take him to Canada, Kim toured industrial facilities in Mexico City supported by South Korea’s Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, and held a meeting with Koreans there, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

On Saturday, he will attend the inauguration of Mexican President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto and deliver a letter from South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to the new leader, the PMO said. The 46-year-old Pena Nieto won the presidential vote in July.

During the bilateral talks with Pena Nieto, Kim will discuss a wide range of issues of mutual concern, including pushing for negotiations on a free trade deal and ways to remove constraints for South Korean companies hoping to advance into Mexico, according to PMO.

South Korea and Mexico launched free trade talks in 2007, but the negotiations have been stalled since the second round in 2008 due in part to concerns in Mexico that such a pact could widen its trade deficit with South Korea.

On the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony, Kim will sit down for bilateral talks with his Uruguayan and Guatemalan counterparts, his office said.

On Monday, Kim will fly to the Canadian city of Ottawa to deliver a congratulatory speech during the ceremony to mark the year 2013, when the two countries will celebrate 50 years of diplomatic ties, his office said.

In a meeting with his Canadian counterpart Stephen Joseph Harper, who is also scheduled to attend the ceremony, Kim plans to ask for efforts for progress in negotiations for a free trade agreement and to discuss ways to expand cooperation in the energy sector, according to his office. (Yonhap News)
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