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Uzbekistan, Korea sign accord on $4B project

Feb 12,2010
Uzbek President Islam Karimov, right, and Korean President Lee Myung-bak, left, at the welcoming ceremony yesterday in the presidential office Blue House after signing an investment treaty on the Surgil project. [YONHAP]

South Korea and Uzbekistan yesterday signed accords to build a chemical plant and develop a gas field in the Central Asian country, after their leaders held a summit in Seoul to discuss measures to boost bilateral economic and political cooperation.

The two countries signed a bilateral investment treaty on their $4 billion project to build a chemicals plant and develop a gas field in the Uzbek region of Surgil, South Korea’s presidential office said.

In their summit here, President Lee Myung-bak and his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, agreed that signing the investment treaty on the Surgil project is the latest symbol of the two countries’ close partnership. Karimov arrived here Wednesday on a three-day trip to reciprocate Lee’s trip to Tashkent last May.

“The leaders expressed satisfaction over the consistent development of the two countries’ relations in various fields including politics, economy and culture, and reaffirmed their will to make joint efforts to deepen a strategic partnership,” read a joint press release issued after the summit.

Lee and Karimov welcomed the signing of the investment treaty and fresh deals on joint exploration of oil fields in West Fergana and Chinabad in Uzbekistan, the press release added. South Korea and Uzbekistan are already working together to explore the Namangan and Chust oil fields.

Energy-rich Uzbekistan has emerged as South Korea’s major economic partner. South Korea, a leading Asian economy, imports 97 percent of its energy and minerals needs.

“The leaders also agreed to boost cooperation on the green growth sector, including compressed natural gas,” the joint statement said. CNG, a fossil fuel, is an environment-friendly substitute for gasoline, diesel or propane fuel.

The South Korean president reaffirmed his pledge to expand official development assistance for the Central Asian country eager to develop its health and medical industry, education sector and infrastructure as well as learn from South Korea’s experience of rapid economic growth and its macroeconomic policy.

On regional and global issues, the presidents agreed on the importance of the “complete and verifiable denuclearization” of North Korea to Northeast Asian security.

Karimov expressed support for the South Korean government’s desire to resolve the nuclear crisis through the prompt resumption of the six-way talks, according to the joint press release. The two sides also agreed to join hands to help the reconstruction of Afghanistan.


Yonhap



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