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(LEAD) S. Korea, Greece agree to deepen economic cooperation

All Headlines 19:10 December 03, 2013
S. Korea-Greece summit

(LEAD) S. Korea, Greece agree to deepen economic cooperation
(ATTN: UPDATES in paras 1, 4-13 with results; CORRECTS figure in para 2; ADDS photo; CHANGES headline)

SEOUL, Dec. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Greek President Karolos Papoulias agreed Tuesday to deepen economic cooperation between the two countries, especially in the shipbuilding and infrastructure sectors, Seoul's presidential office said.

Greece is the No. 1 buyer of South Korean-built ships, with the orders from the European nation accounting for about a quarter of the total in the last four years. Ship exports represented 81 percent, or US$1.5 billion, of South Korea's total exports to Greece last year.

Papoulias arrived here on Monday for a four-day trip. He is the first Greek president ever to visit South Korea, the country that Greece helped defend against North Korea in the 1950-53 war. Greece dispatched 10,581 troops during the conflict, and 186 of them were killed and 610 others wounded.

"The people of South Korea will never forget that Greece is a blood ally that fought alongside us until the war ended," Park said at the start of the talks. "Greece is also a precious nation that placed the first order in the world when South Korea began its shipbuilding business."

During the talks, Park noted that Greece remains the biggest buyer of Korean ships and asked for Papoulias' support in further deepening mutually beneficial cooperation in shipbuilding and shipping between the two countries, the office said.

Papoulias said he hopes for South Korea's support for Greece in overcoming the economic crisis. In particular, the Greek leader said he wants to see South Korean firms make active investments in the country, especially in the shipbuilding area, the office said.

Park also asked Papoulias to help address visa, tax and other difficulties Korean firms face in doing business in Greece. She also asked for support for Korean companies trying to participate in infrastructure projects, such as the construction of roads, air and sea ports and railroads, the office said.

Papoulias responded that South Korea's participation in infrastructure construction in his country is very important, promising to take care of difficulties faced by Korean firms operating there, the office added.

Park stressed that the free trade pact between South Korea and the European Union will bring about positive effects for both sides, and asked Greece to complete domestic procedures to ratify the agreement at an early date, according to the office.

Noting that Greece's consistent support for Seoul's policy on North Korea issues, Park asked that Greece continue to back Seoul's efforts to get the communist country to become a responsible member of the international community, the office said.

After the summit, the two sides signed a military secret protection pact.

Also on Tuesday, Papoulias met with South Korean businessmen and called for the expansion of bilateral cooperation in tourism, energy, agriculture and eco-friendly industry.

Greek officials who were traveling with Papoulias also asked businessmen here to invest in Greece, noting their country will roll out the red carpet to welcome foreign investors.

Tuesday's summit was the second time Park met with Papoulias. The two first met in May 2011 when she visited Greece in her capacity as special presidential envoy marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.


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