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Assembly speaker seeks support for Korean businesses in Turkey, Azerbaijan

During 9-day visit, Park met with leaders of both nations to strengthen economic, diplomatic ties

Korean National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug (left) poses for a photo with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential palace on Aug. 16. (National Assembly)
Korean National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug (left) poses for a photo with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential palace on Aug. 16. (National Assembly)

National Assembly Speaker Park Byeong-seug met with the presidents of Turkey and Azerbaijan during a nine-day visit that ended Saturday, officials said Sunday. During those meetings the leaders of both nations agreed to deepen economic and diplomatic ties with Korea.

Park stressed the significance of bilateral economic cooperation and asked them to support the efforts of Korean companies to take part in major projects there, according to a statement released by the speaker’s office.

Park visited Turkey from Aug. 14 to Aug. 18 and met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Grand National Assembly Speaker Mustafa Sentop. They discussed ways to explore joint business opportunities in major infrastructure projects in countries bordering Turkey, as well as ways to promote cooperation in the defense industry.

In a meeting with Erdogan, Park said, “The construction of the Canakkale 1915 Bridge proceeded earlier than the expected timeline. If completed, the bridge will become a significant symbol of the bilateral relationship between our two countries.”

He asked the president to pay special attention to Korean businesses in Turkey so that they could continue to take part in the country’s infrastructure projects. He also expressed hope that Korean companies would expand their business not only in Turkey but also in neighboring countries.

The construction of the Canakkale Bridge is a $3.7 billion joint project carried out by Korean and Turkish builders. It is expected to produce the world’s longest suspension bridge, connecting the European and Asian portions of Turkey.

Erdogan concurred with Park’s view and they agreed to seek joint business opportunities in third countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus, building on the successful experience of building the Canakkale Bridge together.

Meeting with the leaders of Turkey, Park also sought to strengthen Korea’s diplomatic foothold in the international community by seeking their support to upgrade MIKTA -- a cross-regional consultative group consisting of middle powers Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia -- to a summit-level mechanism. He also solicited Turkey’s support for a nonpermanent seat for Korea on the UN Security Council, as well as for its membership in the UN Human Rights Council.

After his visit to Turkey, Park flew to Azerbaijan on Thursday to meet President Ilham Aliyev and Sahiba Gafarova, chair of the country’s parliament.

Park and Aliyev discussed ways to boost engagement for Korean businesses in Azerbaijan’s large-scale projects, including non-oil industrial development, infrastructure modernization and Karabakh rehabilitation.

“Korean businesses are particularly interested in gas processing and petrochemical complex ($3 billion) and gas combined cycle power plant ($1 billion) construction projects,” Park said.

He requested Aliyev’s support for the participation of Korean companies equipped with technology and experience in the construction of smart cities.

Acknowledging Korean companies’ successful implementation of various projects in Azerbaijan, Aliyev expressed his hope that Korean businesses would take part in future projects, including Karabakh rehabilitation, and transfer their technology and experience. Aliyev, who showed keen interest in cooperation with Korean businesses, instructed Azerbaijani Ambassador to Korea Ramzi Teymurov to host an investment roadshow in Seoul before year-end.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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