Park holds summit in Vietnam amid 'sales diplomacy' campaign
By Chang Jae-soon
HANOI, Sept. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye held summit talks Monday with her Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang that she hopes to use as the kickoff point for a marketing push for Corporate Korea under her "sales diplomacy" drive.
Bolstering economic cooperation with the fast-growing Vietnam will be the main goal for the meeting, where Park plans to ask Vietnam's support for Korean firms trying to win a series of infrastructure contracts there, such as a nuclear power plant project, officials said.
Park has put forward "sales diplomacy" as one of her top priorities in the second half of the year. The slogan refers to a commitment to use diplomatic trips and meetings to promote South Korea's economic interests so as to help Asia's fourth-largest economy recover from a prolonged slump.
Park arrived in Hanoi on Saturday for a five-day state visit, her third overseas trip as president. Vietnam is an unusual choice for one of the first overseas visits by a South Korean president, which officials said shows that Park is very much committed to the "sales diplomacy" campaign.
She visited the United States and China earlier this year.
Vietnam plans to build 10 nuclear reactors by 2030, and South Korea hopes to take part in the construction of two of them, producing more than 1,000 megawatts each. The two-reactor projects are worth about US$10 billion. Russia and Japan are also vying for participation.
South Korean firms are also trying to win a $3.6 billion project to build two, 1,000-megawatt, coal-powered thermal power plants in the Long Phu district in southern Vietnam. They are also hoping to win a $2.3 billion project to build two 600-megawatt thermal power plants in the Nghi Son economic zone in northern Vietnam.
Other projects South Korea is pushing for include acquiring a 44 percent stake in a combined cycle thermal power plant in the Nhon Trach district in southeastern Vietnam and building and operating an underground oil storage terminal in Dung Quat in southern Vietnam.
On Sunday, Park said South Korea's participation in Vietnam's nuclear power plant project will "open up a new horizon" in economic cooperation between the two countries, stressing that their economic cooperation should expand to high-tech, high value-added sectors.
Park will also propose a series of development aid projects for Vietnam, including one that calls for establishing a science technology research institute, known as V-KIST, modeled after the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, officials said.
Vietnam is already the No. 1 recipient of South Korea's official development aid.
Trade volume between South Korea and Vietnam jumped 44-fold from less than $500 million in 1992, when the sides established diplomatic relations, to US$21.6 billion last year, three years earlier than originally targeted. Vietnam is also home to some 1,800 Korean firms.
In an effort to further expand trade, the two countries have been in negotiations to forge a free trade agreement. In Monday's summit, Park plans to call for an early conclusion of the negotiations, officials said.
Later in the day, Park plans to meet with other top Vietnamese leaders, such as Nguyen Phu Trong, the secretary general of the country's Communist Party; Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung; and Parliamentary Speaker Nguyen Sinh Hung.
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