S. Korea, Vietnam push to strike free trade deal this year

Yonhap 2014/10/02

S. Korea, Vietnam push to strike free trade deal this year

SEOUL, Oct. 2 (Yonhap) — President Park Geun-hye said Thursday that South Korea and Vietnam agreed to make aggressive efforts to conclude a free trade agreement within this year as the two countries seek to further strengthen their ties.

The commitment was reached during a summit between the South Korean president and General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong in Seoul.

The two sides plan to wrap up the seventh round of negotiations on the free trade deal Thursday.

South Korea already has a free trade pact with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to which Vietnam is a member.

Vietnam is South Korea’s ninth-largest trading partner with two-way trade amounting to US$28.2 billion in 2013.

Park and Trong held a summit and later stood side by side as South Korean and Vietnamese officials signed a memorandum of understanding on financial cooperation worth $12 billion, a move Seoul says could help South Korean companies win big infrastructure projects.

"Our two leaders concurred that South Korean companies’ participation in big infrastructure projects could contribute to economic development of the two countries," Park said in a news conference after a summit with Trong.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye (R) and General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong speak in a news conference after their summit in Seoul on Oct. 2, 2014. (Yonhap) South Korean President Park Geun-hye (R) and General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong speak in a news conference after their summit in Seoul on Oct. 2, 2014. (Yonhap)

Trong arrived in South Korea on Wednesday for a four-day trip.

South Korean companies hope to clinch four major projects in the Southeast Asian country, including a $7.1 project to build two track rails connecting Ho Chi Minh City and the southeastern coastal city of Nha Trang.

Also Thursday, the two leaders urged North Korea to fully implement its commitment to abandon its nuclear programs under a landmark deal reached with South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia in 2005, according to the text of a joint statement issued after the summit.

In a news conference, Park said she and Trong shared the view that "North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons can never be tolerated."

North Korea has since repeatedly vowed to develop its economy and nuclear arsenal in tandem, viewing its nuclear programs as a powerful deterrent against what it claims is Washington’s hostile policy toward it.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong said Saturday in his address to the U.N. General Assembly that the standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons program will be resolved if the U.S. ends its "hostile policy" toward Pyongyang.

Park’s office said the calls by Park and Trong on North Korea’s denuclearization could send a strong message to North Korea. Vietnam maintains close relations with North Korea since they established diplomatic ties in 1950.

Last year, Park made a state visit to Vietnam, decades after her late father President Park Chung-hee sent troops to fight alongside the United States in the Vietnam War.

entropy@yna.co.kr

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source: Yonhap