Korea and the Netherlands sign nuclear deal

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Korea and the Netherlands sign nuclear deal


Korea and the Netherlands signed an agreement yesterday that will allow the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute to assist the European nation in upgrading a research reactor there currently operated by a Dutch university.

The deal, finalized following a summit between President Park Geun-hye and Dutch King Willem-Alexander at the Blue House, has “paved the way for Korea’s nuclear reactor technologies to advance into Europe.”

His state visit to Korea, at the invitation of the president, follows her official trip to The Hague, where she attended the Nuclear Security Summit in March. The nuclear project will see Korea tasked with upgrading the atomic reactor operated by the Delft University of Technology and building a cold neutron research facility.

The deal, worth an estimated 19 million euros ($23.6 million), is likely “to set the stage for a much bigger project - valued at 500 million euros - that will potentially engage Korea,” according to the Blue House.

“I am pleased to see the visible result of the previous summit on the occasion of the clinching of the Oyster project contract and signing of a memorandum of understanding for joint brain research,” said President Park during the summit. “We hope the summit will boost the foundation for reciprocal cooperation.”

The king’s delegation included Guus Hiddink, the legendary Dutch football manager who helped the Korean team advance into the semi-finals during the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup games. He also joined the luncheon between Park and the King Willem-Alexander in the Netherlands in March.

The King’s state visit is the first to the Peninsula for a Dutch monarch since the two countries forged diplomatic ties in 1961. Before his trip here, Willem-Alexander acknowledged that the two countries had established firm relations based on long-time friendship.

Many observers speculated that the two national leaders would exchange views on Korea’s thorny relationship with Tokyo and the historical disputes that have added to tensions, particularly Japan’s forced mobilization of Korean women to military brothels during World War II.

President Park, however, only told her counterpart that Korea and Japan are partners that should work toward realizing peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia and that the two nations are making efforts to resolve Tokyo’s skewed perception of history. The Blue House did not say how King Willem-Alexander responded.

The Dutch King told Japanese Princess Masako at an imperial banquet hosted by Japan on Oct. 29 that the Dutch people’s ordeal should also not be forgotten and that understanding each other’s grief was the foundation for reconciliation, according to foreign media reports. Emperor Akihito initially opened discussions on Japan’s aggression during World War II in Dutch-occupied Indonesia, from March 1942 until after the end of the war in 1945.

The president hosted a banquet for the two monarchs yesterday evening.


BY SEO JI-EUN [spring@joongang.co.kr]

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