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Seoul city to expand exchanges with Teheran

All News 13:41 January 27, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) -- The Seoul metropolitan government will push to expand exchanges with the Iranian capital of Teheran, with the recent lifting of international sanctions on the Middle East country.

Seoul city's plan is in line with the Iranian government's move to improve relations with South Korea by expanding exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.

Although details of their exchange programs have not been made, Seoul city officials said the two cities will work out plans soon to increase their friendly and cooperative ties.

For example, an advisor to the mayor of Teheran recently visited Seoul City Hall and discussed intensifying cooperative relations between the capitals.

A city official said Wednesday that mayoral advisor Mohammad Khodadadi visited Seoul City Hall and extended an invitation for Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon to participate in the Asia Mayors Forum (AMF) to be held later this year.

Mayor Park was invited to the AMP meeting last year, but could not attend due to his busy schedule.

For the forthcoming meeting this year, the city will dispatch a delegation in Teheran, even though Mayor Park will not be able to attend for inevitable reasons, said an official from the Seoul mayor's office.

The two cities had maintained good relations in the 1960s and 1970s. Two separate avenues were named after Seoul and Teheran in each other's capital in 1977 in a sign of mutual friendship.

"Teheran-ro" was named in a business district in southern Seoul.

After years of lull in their relations, the two cities began to restore friendly, cooperative ties from 2014 when signs of easing sanctions on the Middle East country emerged.

In April 2014, a senior transportation-related official from Teheran visited Seoul to sound out the possibility of increasing exchanges between the two cities at various levels.

A city official said the Seoul metropolitan administration will seek ways to make inroads into other cities in the Middle East on the basis of its close relationship with the Iranian capital.

Seoul city has sisterhood relationships with 23 cities around the globe. It also has "friendly relationships" with 28 other cities in the world.

Teheran has a population of 8.2 million in an area of 1,274 square kilometers, a size 2.1 times larger than Seoul.

Teheran officials have special interests in Seoul's mass transportation system as the Iranian capital suffers from severe air contamination from vehicle exhaust fumes and industrial environmental pollution.

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