India signs civil nuclear deal with South Korea (Lead)

July 25th, 2011 - 10:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil Seoul, July 25 (IANS) Expanding bilateral economic and strategic ties, India Monday inked a civil nuclear cooperation accord with South Korea that will provide a framework for Korean companies to participate in atomic power projects in the country.

The nuclear agreement was signed by Dr. Srikumar Banerjee, Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, and Kim Sung Hwan, foreign minister of the Republic of Korea, after talks between the presidents of the two countries.

President Pratibha Patil, who is on a three-day visit to East Asia’s growing economy, held wide-ranging talks with her South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-Bak at the latter’s residence ‘Blue House.’ The two leaders discussed an expansion of economic and strategic ties.

Besides the agreement on civil nuclear cooperation, the two sides also signed a Memorandum of Understanding on media exchanges and another agreement on administrative arrangements to provide social security to people working in India and Korea.

“The two countries have just concluded and signed a bilateral agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” Sanjay Singh, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters here.

“It is like other civil nuclear agreements signed between India and other countries. We look forward to Republic of Korea for becoming one more partner in the development of civil nuclear energy in India,” he said while describing the agreement as a “win-win” for both the nations.

The two sides had sealed nuclear negotiations during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Seoul in October.

With this deal, South Korea has become the ninth country to have signed a nuclear agreement with India after it got the waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) in September 2008 that reopened the doors for global nuclear commerce after a gap of 34 years.

Since the NSG waiver, India has sealed civil nuclear accords with the US, France, Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Canada and Namibia.

Bilateral trade has blossomed since India and South Korea operationalised comprehensive economic cooperation agreement Jan 1, 2010, taking two-way trade to $21 billion. The two countries are now confident of achieving a trade target of $30 billion by 2014.

Over 300 South Korean companies, including blockbuster brands like Hyundai, LG and Samsung, are operating in India, employing 40,000 workers.

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