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S Korea keen to step up economic ties with India

world Updated: Jun 22, 2009 18:20 IST

South Korea is keen to sign the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India "as early as possible" to cement growing bilateral trade and commercial links, Korean diplomats said in Seoul on Monday.

To hasten the signing of the CEPA, South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan left Seoul for New Delhi on Monday for talks with the Indian government on ways to boost bilateral ties with special focus on the trade sector.

Yu will meet senior Indian officials in New Delhi, including External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, to discuss a range of bilateral and global issues, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official said. He is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"In particular, the issue of CEPA between the two nations will be discussed," the official said.

South Korea and India are in the final stage of negotiations on the CEPA, a term used to emphasise the agreement's purpose of covering goods and services trade, investment and economic cooperation in a comprehensive manner.

South Korea is seeking to sign the CEPA as early as possible, Yonhap news agency reported.

"The Foreign Minister's visit to India this time is expected to make big contributions to the strengthening of South Korea-India ties and the government's push for the 'New Asia Initiative,'" the Foreign Ministry said.