President Park Geun-hye and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II pose for a photo prior to a welcoming dinner at Buckingham Palace in London. (Yonhap News)
President Park Geun-hye began her first day in Britain on Tuesday with the aim of bolstering cooperation with a country that has stood in the vanguard of creative economy and finance.
Park’s four-day trip is the second state visit by a South Korean president to Britain, the first being former President Roh Moo-hyun’s visit in 2004.
Cheong Wa Dae said Park’s arrival represented the special amity between the two countries, considering that Britain extends only two invitations for state visits a year.
Park’s visit coincides with the 60th anniversary of the cease-fire between the two Koreas as well as the 130th anniversary of diplomatic ties with Britain.
Park attended the ceremonial welcome hosted by Queen Elizabeth II and other senior members of the royal family. After inspecting the honor guard, Park traveled with the Queen in a carriage procession to Buckingham Palace.
Park was then slated to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the first monument in tribute to the British war veterans from the Korean War and pay tribute to the tomb of the unknown soldiers.
President Park Geun-hye and Britain`s Queen Elizabeth II ride together in a royal coach to Buckingham Palace after attending the Horse Guards Parade in London on Tuesday. (Yonhap News)
Talks with about 100 members of Parliament were scheduled along with separate talks later in the day with British Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, and Liberal Democrat Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. The Liberal Democrat Party is the coalition partner of Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party.
Highlight of the day was expected to be the elaborate state banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in honor of Park, who would be donned in a hanbok, Cheong Wa Dae officials said.
The next day, Park is set to hold summit talks with Cameron to secure broader cooperation on finance and the creative economy. The two are also expected to discuss economic cooperation, global issues such as cyber security and climate change, and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
Britain, which is highly competitive in basic science technology and creative cultural industries, will provide a benchmark for Park’s vision for a creative economy, the presidential office said.
For this, Choi Moon-ki, the minister of science, ICT and future planning, has joined Park’s entourage. A number of memorandums of understanding between the two countries’ financial institutions will be signed during the visit, the office said.
“Britain has the most potential for cooperation (with Korea). We are currently looking into so many MOUs that it is difficult to count them,” Cho Won-dong, senior economic secretary had explained. The MOUs will range from cooperation on transportation infrastructure, finance, energy and information to communications.
The two countries are also expected to create a dialogue channel to seal cooperation between financial supervisory bodies for cooperation on Korea’s move to establish financial consumer protection agency.
Park also plans to take part in an economy and trade joint committee meeting, and a forum of CEOs.
Other events set for later in the day include a visit to Imperial College London, a meeting with South Korean residents, a special screening of Korean movies and a visit to London’s financial district.
London is the second leg of Park’s three-nation European trip, which took her to France for summit talks with French President Francois Hollande on Monday. After London, she plans to visit Belgium for two days.
By Lee Joo-hee and news reports (firstname.lastname@example.org