Park, senior Indian official express hope for closer economic ties

SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye met with India's national security adviser Tuesday and discussed ways to expand economic and security ties between the two countries, her office said.

The national security adviser, Shivshankar Menon, was in Seoul as a special envoy of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, marking the 40th anniversary this year of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Menon delivered a letter from Singh to Park during the meeting at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, saying the prime minister wishes to meet with her in India at the earliest date possible, the office said in a statement.

Park said she places importance on the two countries' relations, calling for discussions to begin on arranging her trip to India as soon as possible, according to the statement.

Citing growing economic cooperation through the bilateral comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA), Park also called for both sides to work together to meet their trade target of US$40 billion by 2015, the office said.

It is rare for a country to have so much potential for cooperation as India, Park added, citing possible projects in the defense industry, infrastructure construction and the nuclear energy sector.

She specifically asked for India's favorable consideration of South Korean steelmaker POSCO in the construction of a steel plant in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, the office said.

Work on the $3.7 billion steel mill, which would have an estimated annual output of 4 million tons, has been delayed due to opposition from some local residents.

Menon said the Indian government is doing its best to help the project succeed, expressing hope that South Korean firms will take part in his country's five-year plan to build $1 trillion worth of infrastructure by 2017, the office said.

Park thanked the envoy for India's support in condemning North Korea's recent nuclear test and long-range missile launch, stressing that it is important for the international community to deliver a clear and united message to the North in order to induce change in the communist country, it said.

Menon said his country maintains a clear stance against North Korea's nuclear weapons and will do its best to help the communist nation dismantle its nuclear programs and become a responsible member of the international community, it said.

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