Park arrives in Vietnam for state visit

By Chang Jae-soon

HANOI, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye arrived in Vietnam on Saturday for a five-day state visit that she plans to use as the starting point for her "sales diplomacy" drive.

The highlight of the trip is a summit with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang on Monday. Park plans to use the meeting as the starting point for her "sales diplomacy" while trying to expand all-around cooperation with the Southeast Asian nation, officials said.

Key topics for her discussions include how to forge a mutually beneficial free trade agreement and strengthen cooperation in nuclear power and industrial technology. Also on the agenda are development aid projects, such as providing support for a science and technology institute in Vietnam.

A series of memorandums of understanding will be signed after the summit, officials said.

Park has touted the "sales diplomacy" slogan in recent months as a commitment to use diplomatic trips and meetings to promote the country's economic interests. The aim is to help Asia's fourth-largest economy recover from a prolonged slump and revitalize itself.

The state visit also includes meetings with other top Vietnamese leaders, such as Nguyen Phu Trong, the secretary-general of the country's Communist Party; Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung; and Parliamentary Speaker Nguyen Sinh Hung, officials said.

On Tuesday, Park plans to make a one-day visit to the southern city of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's economic center and home to some 1,800 South Korean companies. About 85,000 South Korean residents live there. She will be the first South Korean president to visit Ho Chi Minh City in nine years.

Park's decision to visit Vietnam as her third overseas trip is part of sales diplomacy efforts she plans to focus on in the second half of the year. The move reflects the importance she attaches to the fast-growing region, organized as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), officials said.

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