Korea, Iraq sign deal on economic cooperation
Published : Apr 28, 2011 - 18:59
Updated : Apr 28, 2011 - 18:59
By Kim So-hyun
President Lee Myung-bak agreed with visiting Iraqi Prime minister Nouri Kamil Al-Maliki during summit talks Thursday to extend economic cooperation, hoping for greater participation of South Korean businesses in developing Iraqi oil.
The two countries signed an agreement to promote economic and energy cooperation which is expected to provide a framework for increased two-way trade and investment.
Maliki arrived in Seoul on Wednesday for a four-day official visit, his first trip outside the Middle East upon taking office as prime minister in December last year.
Lee asked the Iraqi government for support so that a greater number of Korean companies can take part in the oil field development of Iraq, which ranks the world’s No. 3 in oil deposits, Lee’s office said in a press release.
Maliki requested the Korean government and businesses to participate in various projects to rebuild his war-torn country especially in the sectors of petroleum and gas, electric power, agriculture, education, housing and transportation.
“Iraq has a long history and culture, and not just abundant energy sources but also water resources,” Lee said in the beginning of his talks with Maliki.
“We, the Republic of Korea, believe that we can be a good partner for Iraq as it overcomes difficulties and pushes for (economic) growth. (I) believe that the two governments can achieve progress through proactive and flexible policies.”
Lee added that close cooperation between the governments would allow private companies to actively and safely do business in Iraq.
The two leaders also agreed to extend educational cooperation including inviting more Iraqi students to study in Korea, based on the understanding that education was the stepping stone for economic development, Cheong Wa Dae said.
Lee and Maliki agreed to expand the two countries’ cooperation in the international arena as well.