S. Korea, Russia to cooperate on harbor development in Far East, Arctic Sea

SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Russia agreed Tuesday to cooperate on developing harbors in the Russian Far East and the Arctic Sea as well as on other projects as part of efforts to boost bilateral ties, Seoul's finance ministry said.

The two countries also agreed to improve cooperation in such fields as trade, investment, resource development and agriculture, according to the ministry.

The agreements were reached at a South Korea-Russia joint committee meeting on the economy, science and technology held in Seoul. South Korea's Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok, Victor Ishaev, minister for Russian Far East, and other high-ranking officials from the two countries shared goals and emphasized the importance of partnership at the committee meeting.

"Russia's high-level basic and core technologies and diverse development projects could serve as a foundation for the creative economy that South Korea has been pushing for," Hyun said during the meeting.

"Also, South Korea's experience in economic development and its solid status in Northeast Asia could be a resource needed for Russia to change its economic paradigm," he added.

Seoul's finance minister also said that the two countries stand at a "critical crossroads" for their efforts to break the cycle of low growth, and this requires both countries to become important partners moving forward.

According to the foreign ministry, Russia also promised support for South Korean firms investing in the Russian Far East, the extreme eastern regions of Russia. Currently, South Korean companies such as Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. operate their farms in Russia.

Resource-poor South Korea, one of Asia's largest importers of corn, has been seeking to secure stable supplies of natural resources including food.

Both sides also agreed to expand cooperation in the Far East and Siberian region by working together to develop energy, construction and transportation facilities, the ministry said.

After the meeting, Hyun said the two sides are discussing a bilateral free trade deal, but nothing yet has been decided.

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