EU leaders express support for Park's peace vision

By Chang Jae-soon

BRUSSELS, Nov. 8 (Yonhap) -- Top European Union leaders expressed full support Friday for South Korean President Park Geun-hye's vision for peace and cooperation on the divided Korean Peninsula and in the region, saying the EU is willing to share its regional integration experiences with Northeast Asia.

Park, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also agreed during summit talks in Brussels that North Korea can never be recognized as a nuclear weapons state, and that the communist nation must fully dismantle its nuclear program.

They also pledged to further strengthen economic cooperation -- including ensuring a full implementation of their free trade agreement, which has been in effect since 2011 -- and working together for technological innovations to create future growth engines.

These were some of the major points from two joint documents issued after the summit: One of them a joint press statement summarizing the talks, and the other a joint declaration commemorating the 50th anniversary of relations between the two sides.

"The EU supports the ROK's Trust-building Process on the Korean Peninsula and welcomes the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative proposed by the President of the Republic of Korea as a way of building dialogue and trust in the region," the joint declaration said.

The two visions call basically for confidence-building measures to promote peace on the divided peninsula that is plagued by nuclear tensions, and in Northeast Asia where efforts to enhance cooperation have been hamstrung by historical and territorial tension.

With the EU's support, Park secured backing for the peace visions from most major players in global diplomacy, including the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- The United States, Britain, China, Russia and France.

"Leaders appreciated that the EU's experience could bring a positive contribution to the promotion of cooperative approaches to strengthen peace and stability in East Asia," the joint statement said, adding that they agreed to hold a joint seminar to study ways to facilitate regional cooperation.

On economic cooperation, the two sides noted that their free trade pact "has been the driving force for our cooperation, bringing considerable benefits to companies and consumers," adding "(we)look forward to the continued expansion of bilateral trade and investment through the full implementation of the FTA."

In an effort to bolster cooperation on the "creative economy," the sides agreed to strengthen joint research and innovation cooperation, especially in the areas of nanotechnology, information communication technology, and including the next generation of communication networks, cloud computing and associated standards and policies, and energy.

Reaffirming a shared commitment to realizing a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, the leaders agreed that North Korea "cannot have the status of a nuclear-weapon state" and urged Pyongyang to "abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, including its uranium enrichment program, in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner."

They also expressed concern over the human rights situation in the North and strongly urged the totalitarian state to "fully respect universal human rights and fundamental freedoms."

Brussels was the last leg of Park's three-nation trip that also took her to France and Britain.

The week-long trip was the last overseas trip in Park's first year in office. It rounded off a series of visits to important countries, including the United States, China, Russia, and rising Southeast Asian economies Vietnam and Indonesia.

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