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President to visit three Central Asian nations

President Park Geun-hye will leave for a six-day trip to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan next week to enhance relations with the Central Asian nations, which are expected to play a crucial role in realizing her vision of a united Eurasia, Cheong Wa Dae said on Monday.

Park proposed her “Eurasia Initiative” in October, urging Eurasian nations to join forces to build energy and logistics infrastructure across the continent. The initiative calls for linking roads and railways across the continent to connect South Korea directly to Europe, through North Korea, Russia and China.

The South Korean president will first fly to Uzbekistan for a three-day trip next Monday. She plans to hold a summit with her counterpart Islam Karimov to seek strategic partnerships on a wide range of issues including politics, business, energy and technology. The two leaders will also discuss expanding cooperation on joint ventures currently underway such as a gas and pipeline project at the Surgil gas field near the Aral Sea and a thermal power plant expansion project in Talimarjan, 440 kilometers southwest of the Uzbek capital Tashkent. During her state visit to Uzbekistan, she will meet and encourage representatives of Korean communities in Central Asia and wrap up her three-day trip in Uzbekistan’s second-largest city of Samarkand, which prospered from its location on the trade route between China and the Mediterranean.

On the second leg of the tour, Park will visit Kazakhstan and hold talks with her counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev on June 19. She will discuss with the Kazakh president ways to bolster ties in the fields of energy, the environment, and science and technology, officials said.

Park will then fly to Turkmenistan and hold a summit with her counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to seek support measures for Korean companies making inroads into the Central Asian country. She will be the first South Korean leader to visit Turkmenistan, the presidential office said.

By Cho Chung-un (