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(LEAD) S. Korean, EU leaders share need to revise bilateral FTA

All News 19:18 July 15, 2016

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead, photo; ADDS photos; UPDATES throughout with summit results)
By Song Sang-ho

ULAANBAATAR, July 15 (Yonhap) -- The leaders of South Korea and the European Union (EU) on Friday "shared the view" that there is a need to revise the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) in the wake of Britain's recent decision to leave the 28-member bloc, Seoul's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said.

President Park Geun-hye, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk held talks on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Ulaanbaatar.

During the meeting, they shared the view that the two sides should work together to create a "new turning point" to expand mutual trade through a revision of the bilateral FTA, which was signed in 2010 and provisionally took effect in 2011.

"In consideration of the situational changes" over the last five years since the FTA took effect, the revision process should proceed, the leaders noted, according to a press release from the presidential office.

During the talks, Park stressed the need for the two sides to work closely together, both on the bilateral and multilateral levels, to bolster free trade in the world. She then expressed concerns that Britain's exit from the EU could trigger "isolationism and protectionism."

Park also called on EU leaders to strengthen bilateral cooperation in tackling various global challenges so as to promote peace and prosperity, while expressing confidence that the EU would continue to develop into a more solid, integrated institution even after Britain's departure.

Juncker said that Britain's exit from the EU would not have any impact on South Korea-EU relations, and that the bloc would continue to strengthen bilateral cooperation in various areas as a "trustworthy" partner.

The South Korean president also used the meeting to underscore that the international community should continue to pressure Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile programs and improve its woeful human rights situation.

She reiterated the need to create a situation -- in which Pyongyang has no choice but to opt for denuclearization -- through the faithful enforcement of international and standalone sanctions against the provocative regime.

It was Park's second summit with the current EU leadership, which came to office in 2014.

Earlier in the day, Park also held a separate one-on-one meeting with Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.

She discussed ways to enhance practical cooperation with the Southeast Asian nation, which is this year's rotating chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Park called for "active" cooperation from Laos in ensuring that the ASEAN as a whole delivers a clear message to Pyongyang against its development of nuclear arms and provocative behavior.

She also appreciated Laos' support of the vision of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and its faithful enforcement of international sanctions on the North.

The president expressed her wish to strengthen high-level personnel exchanges and "strategic communication" between the countries, noting that the two countries have recently deepened defense cooperation through a set of initiatives including one to install defense attache offices in each other's countries.

It was the first summit between the two leaders since a new Laotian government took power in April.

Soon after the talks with the Laotian premier, the president held separate talks with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, who also took office in April.

The leaders discussed ways to bolster their cooperation in various industrial sectors such as new energy, information and communications technologies (ICT) and health care in addition to the manufacturing sector.

They also exchanged views on how to strengthen their strategic partnership ahead of the 25th anniversary next year of the establishment of their countries' diplomatic ties.

Sharing the understanding that Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs pose a great threat to peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the world, the two sides agreed to work closely together to address the security threats.


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