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(LEAD) Lee in Mexico for FTA, U.N. diplomacy against Pyongyang

All Headlines 06:01 July 01, 2010

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with arrival; CHANGES dateline)
By Lee Chi-dong

MEXICO CITY, June 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak began a state visit to Mexico Wednesday, during which he will try to revive the two countries' free trade agreement talks and drum up support for Seoul's U.N. diplomacy against North Korea for its deadly naval attack.

Lee plans to hold a summit with Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Thursday to discuss major bilateral issues including trade, investment, aviation, infrastructure, energy, culture, and consular affairs, Lee's office, Cheong Wa Dae, said.

During his three-day stay here, Lee hopes to "secure political momentum" for the resumption of FTA talks between the two sides, it added.

The negotiations began in 2007 but came to a halt a year later mainly due to a lukewarm response from Mexico's business circles.

Mexico is South Korea's largest trading partner in the region. Their two-way trade volume totaled US$8.1 billion in 2009.

The leaders will also discuss how to foster cooperation on the global stage and other issues of mutual concern such as the security condition on the Korean Peninsula, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

Mexico is a major player at the U.N., the G-20 and the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum, and has cooperated closely on global issues such as climate change and disarmament.

South Korea expects Mexico's support for its efforts to punish North Korea through the Security Council for its sinking of a 1,200-ton South Korean naval ship, the Cheonan, in March that killed 46 sailors.

"President Lee will raise the Cheonan issue at the summit with President Calderon and ask for support," a Cheong Wa Dae official said.

In his first official schedule here, Lee visited a national cemetery to pay homage at fallen Mexican patriots and was to meet a group of South Korean expatriates later in the day.

Lee is also scheduled to hold a meeting with Mexican business leaders Thursday.

Mexico is the third and last leg of his week-long trip that also took him to Canada and Panama. Lee is to return to Seoul on Saturday.


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