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Korea, EU vow to fully implement FTA

President Park Geun-hye, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (right) and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy pose for a photo after their summit talks in Belgium on Friday. Yonhap News
President Park Geun-hye, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (right) and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy pose for a photo after their summit talks in Belgium on Friday. Yonhap News

President Park Geun-hye and European Union leaders agreed Friday to fully implement the free trade agreement and urged for North Korea to abandon all of its nuclear programs.

The leaders signed a joint statement in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and the European Union.

The statement was sealed after Park held talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy on her third and final leg of the three-nation European trip. Park visited France and Britain earlier this week.

Korea and EU said they “look forward to continued expansion of the bilateral trade and investment through full implementation of the FTA and to make concerted efforts to further develop a creative economy and innovation through exchanges in research, higher education and businesses.”

They also reaffirmed the goal for North Korea’s denuclearization and urged for the reclusive regime to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.

They also agreed to “work more closely in addressing crises, including through crisis management operations, and strengthen efforts to address key global challenges such as human rights, climate change and peaceful use of nuclear energy.”

During their talks, the European leaders also expressed their support for Park's initiative for peace and cooperation on the peninsula and in the region, saying the EU is willing to share its integration experience with Northeast Asia suffering from long-festering historical, territorial rows.

Park also underscored the synergy effect that could be created from Korea’s creative economy drive and EU’s 2020 Strategy, the region’s growth strategy for the decade to become a sustainable and inclusive economy.

The EU is the No. 1 investor in South Korea and the fourth-largest export market for the country. South Korea and the EU forged a free trade agreement in 2010, and the pact has been in force since 2011.

Upon arrival in Brussels, Park made a visit to a war memorial honoring Belgium’s participation in the 1950-53 Korean War, and met with some elderly Belgian veterans.

“On behalf of the Republic of Korea, I offer deep gratitude to veterans for making sacrifices to safeguard the freedom of the Republic of Korea,” she said. “I hope my visit will deepen the blood-forged friendship between our two countries.”

Park then held a meeting with leading European scientists and experts. Participants included Helga Nowotny, president of the European Research Council, and Tim Hunt, the 2001 winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine.

She attended a banquet hosted by King Philippe later in the day.

After a weeklong trip to Europe centered on securing wider cooperation on the creative economy, finance, science and energy, Park returns home Saturday.

By Lee Joo-hee and news reports

(jhl@heraldcorp.com)
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