Park and Hollande hold a summit

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Park and Hollande hold a summit


French President Francois Hollande, left, and President Park Geun-hye are welcomed by Korean children at the Blue House ahead of their bilateral summit meeting on Wednesday. [NEWSIS]

Korea and France vowed on Wednesday to strengthen their comprehensive partnership, including expanding educational and cultural exchanges, following a presidential summit.

President Park Geun-hye and French President Francois Hollande had a summit meeting at the Blue House Wednesday evening and discussed ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries. Following their meeting, the two countries adopted an 11-point action plan to improve the comprehensive partnership for the 21st century.

Hollande arrived in Korea on Tuesday for a state visit and sat down for a summit with Park, the third of its kind, to discuss bilateral and global issues. Park hosted a dinner for the French president at the Blue House following the meeting.

The two countries will celebrate the 130th anniversary of their diplomatic relations next year, and the Blue House said the action plan will provide a new turning point not only in the fields of politics and economics but also in areas directly concerning the two countries’ people.

According to the plan, Seoul and Paris agreed to expand educational, cultural and language exchanges to improve understanding between the two countries. Higher education diplomas will be mutually recognized between the two countries, and the education ministries signed an arrangement to this end.

The Blue House said 1,000 French students are studying in Korea and 6,400 Korean students are studying in France. It said the diploma exchange will boost student exchanges.

France also agreed to include Korean as a second-language subject for the college entrance exam, the Baccalaureate, starting in 2017. English, Japanese and Chinese are also available as test subjects.

The two countries also signed two memoranda of understanding to improve cooperation in tourism and transportation. The Blue House said French tourists to Korea rose from 44,000 in 2005 to 66,000 in 2010. From January through October 2015, 72,000 people visited Korea from France.

The two countries also agreed to strengthen political and security talks, including strategic dialogue between their foreign ministries. They also agreed to improve science and technology cooperation. The French Tech Hub, a start-up supporter, will open its office in Seoul in 2016, the Blue House said.

The two countries agreed to cooperate in transportation, nano-technology, digital health care and aviation and space. A space cooperation memorandum of understanding was signed.

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