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Top S. Korean official due in Iran, Turkey

A top South Korean diplomat will make a rare trip to Iran this week, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, with a deal in sight in the U.S.-led talks over Tehran's nuclear program.

The two-day trip starting Friday by Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yong is apparently aimed at laying the groundwork for closer bilateral economic cooperation and partnerships in other fields.

Cho is scheduled to hold talks with his Iranian counterpart, Morteza Sarmadi, on Saturday.

"The two sides plan to consult on ways for the development of South Korea-Iran relations on the basis of a review of issues of mutual concern in wide-ranging sectors, including economy, culture, health care, and development cooperation as well as political ties, including the exchange of high-level figures," the ministry said in a press release.

Cho will be the first South Korean vice foreign minister to visit the Middle Eastern country in a decade.

Cho's visit there comes as Iran is in the final stage of negotiations with the so-called P5+1 -- the U.S., China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany -- on its uranium enrichment program. They have set June 30 as the deadline for an agreement.

Once a final deal is struck and sanctions on Iran are lifted, t is expected to seek many joint economic projects with the nternational community.

Before flying to Iran, meanwhile, Cho will make a two-day visit to Turkey, where he will meet with his local counterpart, Feridun Hadi Sinirlioglu, for discussions on pending bilateral issues, such as trade and investment and global affairs, said the ministry.(Yonhap)

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