More deals signed on Lee’s Asia tour

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More deals signed on Lee’s Asia tour

ASTANA - Korea clinched key agreements with Kazakhstan Thursday on two $4 billion projects to build a thermal power plant and a petrochemical complex in the Central Asian nation, the latest fruit of President Lee Myung-bak’s trip to Central Asia.

After talks between Lee and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the two sides signed an “intergovernment agreement” guaranteeing Korea’s 70-percent stake in a $4 billion project to build a coal power plant in the southern city of Balkhash.

Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) and Samsung C&T currently hold a 35-percent stake each in the project to build a 1,320-megawatt plant that is expected to generate about 7 percent of Kazakhstan’s electricity needs.

Officials said that the intergovernmental guarantee is a must to make sure that the terms of the contract will remain effective regardless of changes to the law in Kazakhstan and to ensure that the Kazakh government will buy electricity from the plant.

In addition, Korea’s LG Chem and Kazakhstan Petrochemical Industries also signed a contract to establish a joint venture to push for a $4 billion project to build a petrochemical complex in Atyrau on the northern banks of the Caspian Sea.

The two agreements were the largest-ever since Korea and Kazakhstan forged relations in 1992, and the latest achievement of Lee’s three-nation Central Asian tour that already took him to Mongolia and Uzbekistan.

In Uzbekistan, a $4 billion deal was signed to develop a massive gas field and build a chemical plant. Lee arrived in Astana on Wednesday.

During Thursday’s summit talks, Lee and Nazarbayev agreed that the success of the Balkhash power plant and the Atyrau petrochemical complex will serve as a model for further expanding cooperation between the two countries and pledged to cooperate closely on them, officials said.

The two leaders also expressed satisfaction that their countries have steadily expanded cooperation and discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in trade, investment, energy, resources, environment, health care, medicine, IT and agriculture, officials said. The two sides also signed about 20 economic cooperation agreements.

Officials said that Lee has developed a close friendship with Nazarbayev as he has held summits with the Kazakh leader every year since taking office in 2008. This year’s visit would further strengthen their personal bond, officials said.

Nazarbayev praised Korea for playing key roles in the international community, such as last year’s hosting of the G-20 Summit and winning the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Lee also spoke highly of Kazakhstan’s growing international status, as shown in its hosting of last year’s summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and this year’s Winter Asian Games.

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