Energy minister meets newly elected Czech PM

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Energy minister meets newly elected Czech PM

Korea’s energy minister met with the Czech Republic’s next prime minister to win support for local companies aiming to win a nuclear power plant deal in the European country, official sources here said Sunday.

Paik Un-gyu, the minister of trade, industry and energy, met with Andrej Babis, a business tycoon-turned politician who led his anti-establishment ANO party to victory in the polls earlier in the year.

The meeting that took place on Friday marks the first meeting between Babis and a ministry official from a foreign country. The ministry said that besides the nuclear issue, the two sides touched on expanding economic and industrial cooperation.

“Paik made clear Seoul’s interest in the Czech project and expressed confidence that close cooperation will lead to a successful building program,” the ministry said. The policy maker stressed that Korea has some 40 years of experience building nuclear reactors and even secured a construction order in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the past.

Under its national energy plan, the Central European country wants to build new reactors by 2040.

The Czech Republic already uses nuclear power to generate about one-third of its electricity and plans to expand the ratio of nuclear energy to over 50 percent in the coming years, the World Nuclear Association said.

The ministry said at the meeting, the incoming prime minister said he was well aware of Korea’s global competitiveness in nuclear plant building and said that under his government, Seoul’s participation will be carefully reviewed.

Related to the latest meeting, state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. has been actively marketing its nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic.

In a separate gathering with the Czech Republic’s minister of industry and trade, the two sides signed memoranda of understanding calling for greater two-way cooperation in the nuclear energy field and exchange of expert personnel. Yonhap
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