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S. Korea, Uzbekistan agree to push for economic projects

All Headlines 13:01 May 28, 2015

SEOUL, May 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Uzbekistan agreed Thursday to push for large-scale cooperative projects in the Central Asian country, a move that could further boost their economic ties.

The agreement was reached in a summit between President Park Geun-hye and her Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, in Seoul, the second such meeting in a year.

South Korea said it can set up mutually beneficial ties with Uzbekistan by marrying Seoul's technology and know-how for economic development with Tashkent's rich natural resources.

"The two sides agreed to push for large-scale cooperative projects in Uzbekistan's economy ... to introduce advanced technology and attract direct investment from major South Korean companies," according to a joint statement issued after the summit.

Uzbekistan said it is ready for active cooperation to create a favorable atmosphere for the implementation of joint projects with major South Korean companies.

The main areas of bilateral cooperation include oil, gas, petrochemicals, automobiles, solar energy as well as modernization projects for transport infrastructure in Uzbekistan.

Central Asia's most populous country plans to modernize key industrial facilities and build infrastructure worth US$55 billion over the next five years.

South Korea hopes to win some of the projects in Uzbekistan.

Park and Karimov observed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on a $4.5 billion project to produce plastic products by converting methanol produced from natural gas to olefins.

Karimov arrived in Seoul on Wednesday on his first foreign trip since winning re-election in March. The move, Seoul says, illustrates Uzbekistan's commitment to developing ties with South Korea.

He has visited South Korea seven times since 1991, when he was elected president in Uzbekistan following its independence from the Soviet Union. In June, Park visited Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is South Korea's largest trading partner among Central Asian nations and home to the largest number of ethnic Koreans in the region.

Last year, two-way trade stood at US$1.9 billion.


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