India to push N-deals with South Korea, Mongolia

July 22nd, 2011 - 6:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) India is set to pursue civil nuclear cooperation with South Korea and Mongolia when President Pratibha Patil goes on a week-long visit to these East Asian countries starting Sunday.

Patil’s first stop of her two-nation tour sis Seoul, where she will meet President Lee Myung-bak and a host of senior South Korean leaders. Some economic and culture-related agreements are expected to be signed after the talks.

Economic and nuclear diplomacy will top Patil’s agenda in Seoul. Ahead of the visit, India has pitched for greater investments from South Korea, a rising East Asian economy that is rapidly expanding its trade ties with India.

“We welcome greater investments from South Korea,” Vishnu Prakash, the external affairs ministry spokesperson, told reporters here Friday.

Bilateral trade has blossomed since the two countries 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.

Patil is also expected to push the final stage of civil nuclear negotiations, with a view to wrapping up the nuclear deal with India.

The two sides sealed nuclear negotiations during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Seoul in October, but some finer details remain to be worked out and these will be discussed during the visit, said official sources.

The president will also pay floral tributes at the bust of Rabindranath Tagore that was unveiled by Speaker Meira Kumar when she went to Seoul in May.

Patil goes to Mongolian capital Ulan Bator July 27. This will be the first visit by an Indian president in 23 years since Mongolia became a democratic country. A number of economic agreements are expected to be signed after delegation-level talks between the two sides.

From India’s point of view, pushing nuclear negotiations with the uranium-rich Mongolia will be the top priority.

“There have been active consultations between the atomic establishments of the two sides,” Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary in charge of East Asia in India’s external affairs ministry, told reporters.

In September 2009, India had signed an agreement for peaceful uses of radioactive minerals and nuclear energy with Mongolia during the visit of Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj.

Since the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) granted a waiver to New Delhi in September 2008 reopening doors of global commerce, India has sealed over half a dozen civil nuclear accords with various countries, including the US, France, Russia, Kazakhstan, Britain, Canada and Namibia.

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