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(EDITORIAL from Korea Herald on March 11)

All News 07:17 March 11, 2016

Iran summit needed
Sincerity essential to build close partnership

South Korea’s two major flag carriers have engaged in a tight rivalry to garner exclusive air traffic rights for the Incheon-Tehran route from the local Transportation Ministry amid exporters’ preparations to tap the lucrative Iranian market.

The same sort of competition is seen in industrial sectors, such as oil refining, construction, shipbuilding, logistics, petrochemicals, mobile communications and automobiles. It is even fiercer when it comes to global businesses.

A global rush to the Iranian market kicked off after the international community lifted its sanctions on the country earlier this year. Before business competition heated up, major countries had already begun to compete to court Iran through diplomatic activities.

Following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Tehran in January, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is reportedly moving to follow suit in the coming months.

Cheong Wa Dae earlier hinted at a summit between President Park Geun-hye and her counterpart Hassan Rouhani, which would make her the first president of South Korea to visit Iran. The presidential office has yet to confirm the trip.

We hope to see the administration make full-fledged efforts to build a close business partnership with Iran by holding a summit, and express sincerity in its bilateral collaboration as quickly as possible.

Considering Japan’s reported determination to catch up with its competitors in the rush to Iran, it seems necessary for the Park administration to advance its itinerary through talks with Iranian officials. There is no reason to let Japan outpace Korea.

Seoul had no choice but to participate in the joint sanctions on the Middle Eastern country. So the government should initially prioritize in placating Tehran in a sincere manner.

In the context, it is quite pleasant to see the news that many Iranian citizens are big fans of Korean TV dramas and Samsung smartphones. We hope Park will efficiently deliver the fact that more and more business sectors are pinning great hopes on business ties with Iran.

A significant point is that Iran will not want only an expansion in the trade of goods. A delegation composed of business leaders, who are expected to accompany Park, should thoroughly map out ways to generate synergy with Iranian enterprises and exchange workforces. Suggestions for cultural exchanges are also required during their visit.

Some Koreans may be unfamiliar with Iran. A large portion may only be acquainted with “The Arabian Nights” folktales or the powerful Iranian national soccer team in regards to the country and its thousands of years of history.

Iran is known for placing emphasis on fidelity between its diplomatic and business partners. One Korean construction firm did not pull out its liaison office from the country, despite global sanctions.

There is Seoul Avenue in northern Tehran, and Teheran Street in southern Seoul, as well. It is time to hurry.

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