S. Korea, Bahrain agree to form economic cooperation body

SEOUL, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Bahrain agreed Monday to set up a joint committee to discuss ways of boosting bilateral economic cooperation, the Prime Minister's Office in Seoul said.

The two sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on economic and trade cooperation, which calls for establishing a joint committee and holding an annual meeting to discuss how to deepen economic ties.

The signing ceremony was attended by South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won and his Bahraini counterpart, Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

Chung is in the Middle Eastern country, the first leg of his seven-day, four-nation tour from Sunday that also includes visits to Qatar, Sri Lanka and Turkey. His trip to Bahrain marks the first time that South Korea's second in command has visited the Middle Eastern country since 1976 when the two forged diplomatic relations.

Seoul and Manama also signed two additional MOUs on exchange programs for technology manpower and on South Korea's support for Bahrain's establishment of a urban security control network.

During the bilateral talks prior to the signing ceremony, the two prime ministers discussed ways of promoting cooperation in a variety of fields such as trade, finance, construction and culture, Chung's office said.

Later in the day, Chung sat down for talks with the King of Bahrain, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, and the two exchanged views on security and political situations of Northeast Asia and the Middle East, according to Chung's office.

Chung also asked for the Gulf nation's special attention and support for South Korean companies' active participation in its large-scale national projects. In response, the king vowed "(Bahrain's) utmost consideration," citing South Korea's excellence in technology and know-how.

"The bilateral talks and the agreements are expected to serve as a foundation for the two countries to explore new fields in terms of their cooperation," his office said in a statement.

The prime minister will move to his second destination of Qatar later Monday.

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