Park meets with Kyrgyzstan leader

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Park meets with Kyrgyzstan leader

President Park Geun-hye and Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev yesterday signed an intergovernmental agreement for grant-type aid, laying a foundation for development and cooperation between the two nations. The leaders held the summit a day after the Kyrgyzstan president arrived in Seoul at Park’s invitation.

The Blue House explained that the accord is an important legal framework that will facilitate grant-aid operations. It allows governmental organizations, such as the Korea International Cooperation Agency (Koica), to send workers to Kyrgyzstan. Taxes also will be exempted on supplies or equipment sent over by these state-run agencies. The accumulated value of assistance Korea offered to Kyrgyzstan from 1987 through 2012 totals $22 million, of which $8.6 million was grant-type aid. The agreement will provide assistance largely to help reduce poverty and contribute to economic and social development in the Central Asian country.

“Ever since we formed diplomatic ties in 1992, the cooperative relationship between the two countries in various fields has made progress,” said President Park in a welcome address before the summit.

“And the groundwork for institutional cooperation has been expanding recently. Korea has been pushing ahead with Eurasia cooperation as a crucial state agenda, and I believe the summit today will be an important move for our bilateral relationship.”

The energy-related ministers of the two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding on energy industry cooperation. Kyrgyzstan is known for its ample reserves of coal, natural gas and petroleum.

Atambayev is the first Central Asian president to visit Seoul since Park took office nine months ago. Last time a leader from Kyrgyzstan visited Korea was 16 years ago. Atambayev visited Seoul six years ago while serving as prime minister.

There are some 20,000 ethnic Koreans in Kyrgyzstan and President Park said they serve as a “reliable link” in bilateral relations.

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