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(LEAD) S. Korea, U.S. sign space cooperation agreement

All Headlines 11:55 April 27, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks from foreign minister, U.S. ambassador in paras 6-11; CHANGES photo)
By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, April 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United States on Wednesday signed an agreement on space cooperation, paving the way for the allies' enhanced collaboration in the exploration of outer space.

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert signed the "Framework Agreement for Cooperation in Aeronautics and the Exploration and Use of Airspace and Outer Space for Civil and Peaceful Purposes."

With the signing, South Korea became the first Asian country to ink a pact on space cooperation with the U.S., Seoul officials explained. The signing ceremony took place during the second South Korea-U.S. Civil Space Dialogue in Seoul.

The bilateral efforts to establish a legal framework for space cooperation began in 2010. The endeavors got a boost when Presidents Park Geun-hye and Barack Obama agreed to expand space cooperation during their summit in October.

The agreement sets forth the terms and conditions for potential bilateral cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes in areas of common interest and "on the basis of equality and mutual benefit," a joint press statement read.

During his congratulatory remarks, Yun said that the agreement aims to capitalize on space technology to help "enhance the quality of life and ensure a stable and prosperous world."

"Rather than using the agreement as a tool for a zero-sum competition, we would like to use it to jointly address challenges facing the international community and enhance human dignity," he said.

He also pointed out that North Korea "unfortunately" seeks to develop delivery vehicles for its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction under the name of "space development."

The U.S. ambassador highlighted that the agreement would help further "broaden, deepen and strengthen" the evolving alliance between South Korea and the U.S.

"The U.S. and ROK (Republic of Korea) have a strong history of basic space cooperation and by signing this framework agreement here today, we are laying the groundwork to take this cooperation and collaboration to exciting new heights," he said.

"Our collaboration on space will be dramatically enhanced by this framework agreement and promises to expand boundaries of knowledge, inspire innovation, develop new technology will be a driver of economic growth," he added.

The agreement covers potential cooperation on various space-related topics, such as cutting edge planetary exploration, Earth observation and improved understanding of heliophysics by exchanges of scientific data, as well as scientists, engineers and other experts, officials said.

During Wednesday's space cooperation talks, the two sides discussed cooperation on future exploration activities, including Korea's lunar exploration project and the exploration of Mars, the officials said.

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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