India, South Korea upgrade ties, sign 7 pacts

SEOUL: India and South Korea have infused a new energy into their multi-faceted partnership by upgrading ties to “special strategic partnership” and signing seven bilateral agreements in diverse areas.

“Our relationship started with a strong economic emphasis. But, it has also now become strategic in content,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday.

“The decision to upgrade bilateral ties reflect how seriously we take the new framework of our relationship. Republic of Korea is the second country with which India will have a diplomatic and security dialogue in 2+2 format,” PM Modi said while addressing a joint press conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye in Seoul.

“We consider South Korea a crucial partner in India’s economic modernisation,” he said.

In the strategic sphere, India and South Korea decided to expand cooperation between their armed forces. “We intend to deepen our cooperation in defence technology and manufacture of defence equipment in India. This sector offers huge opportunities in India. I have requested President Park to support the participation of Korean companies in the defence sector in India. Her response has been positive,” the PM said.

Mr Modi also made a pitch for inviting Korean investments in areas like ship building, including LNG tankers.

PM Modi welcomed South Korea’s diplomatic efforts to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

The India leader underlined that India and South Korea have common views on maritime security in this region. “We discussed our engagement in the East Asia Summit and with ASEAN. We have a shared interest in an open, balanced and inclusive regional architecture. We have common views on maritime security in this region,” Mr Modi said.

“We agreed to work together and with other countries in the region to ensure the freedom of navigation and safety and security of sea lanes of communication. Challenges of cyber security and terrorism are also areas of interest to both of us,” he stressed.

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