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Seoul inks deal for 5 Uzbek oil projects

Contracts among 16 pacts the two countries endorse  PLAY AUDIO

May 12,2009
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - South Korea has secured rights yesterday to explore five new oil and mineral fields in Uzbekistan as part of reinforced cooperation on energy and resources between the two nations.

The deal was reached at a summit meeting between President Lee Myung-bak and his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov.

Following their meeting in Tashkent, the capital, the two leaders said they recognized the importance of a joint declaration reached in March 2006 that stressed strategic partnership between South Korea and Uzbekistan. Lee and Karimov vowed to strengthen their governmental and economic cooperation in order to solidify the partnership.

“Both sides expressed satisfaction that their bilateral relations in political, economic, cultural and humanitarian sectors have significantly developed in recent years,” their joint statement read.

On the energy front, the two leaders agreed to increase cooperation in mining, oil, gas, construction, automobiles and information technology, and to help improve the investment environment for entrepreneurs. The new exploration contract, among 16 deals reached yesterday, was signed between Korea National Oil Corporation and Uzbekistan’s Uzbekneftegaz energy company.

South Korea is already the main contractor for explorations in Uzbekistan’s Namangan-Tergachi and Chust-Pap regions under an agreement reached in November 2008. South Korean officials said at the time that these regions hold about 10.5 million tons of natural gas and 9.2 million tons of oil.

Also, South Korea pledged to supply $17.6 million to help build a new sewage system in the Uzbek city of Navoiy, drawing money from Seoul’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund.

Following the summit, Lee gave a keynote speech at a forum on the growth of South Korea and Uzbekistan at a Tashkent hotel. Lee said that the connection between the logistical hubs of both South Korea and Uzbekistan “will lead to prosperity and peace of Asia and the rest of the world,” adding, “I suggest we build a Silk Road for the 21st century to open the new era of economic cooperation between the two countries.”

Lee was to head to Samarkand, an Uzbek city on the Silk Road, today for a brief tour and then depart for Kazakhstan later in the day. In Kazakhstan’s capital city Astana, Lee is scheduled to meet with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.


By Seo Seung-wook, Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]


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