(ATTN: UPDATES with Moon's first face-to-face meeting with Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong)
NEW DELHI, July 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a rare trip together Monday to celebrate the construction of a local production facility of Samsung Electronics Co.
The two leaders welcomed the completion of the world's largest Samsung factory in India.
"The Noida plant has now become the largest smartphone production facility of Samsung Electronics in South Korea and outside. The expectation of people in India and South Korea too has become so much bigger. The more active the Noida factory becomes, the economies of India and South Korea too will grow," President Moon said in his congratulatory remarks delivered at an opening ceremony.
Moon's trip to the Noida facility came one day after he arrived in New Delhi for a four-day state visit. It also followed the leaders' joint visit to the National Gandhi Museum in New Delhi earlier Monday.
Moon and Modi are set to hold talks on Tuesday -- their second bilateral summit since Moon took office in May 2017.
"Today, I once again realize the fact that India and South Korea are the best partners for each other," Moon told the ceremony marking the inauguration of the Noida facility, which has an annual production capacity of 120 million units, according to Moon's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
Moon noted the facility alone will create 2,000 jobs, along with thousands of others to be created at 500 suppliers and business partners of Samsung in India.
"I hope smartphones produced at the Noida facility will be exported to third countries in the Middle East and Africa, thus enhancing the fruits of economic cooperation between the two countries. The South Korean government too will do its utmost to support the facility so the Noida factory will become a symbol of coexistence and cooperation between India and South Korea," he said, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.
Modi said the ceremony marked a special day when India became what he called a "global manufacturing hub."
"The 50-billion-rupee investment will not only strengthen the mutual relationship between India and Samsung but it will also be very helpful to the South Korea-India relationship," the Indian leader said in congratulatory remarks televised live by a local broadcaster.
Cheong Wa Dae officials said Moon's trip to the Noida facility is widely expected to help improve Samsung's image while Modi's trip there may greatly contribute to expanding its market presence.
At 41.8 percent, Samsung enjoyed the largest market share of India's smartphone market last year but was closely trailed by its Chinese competitors with a market share of 40.9 percent, South Korea's Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong said earlier.
"I hope the smartphones produced here at the Noida factory will lead the IT civilization of India and South Korea. The sweat you shed here today together with the people of India will be recorded as a great achievement in the history of our two countries' friendship and development," Moon said.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was conspicuous by his presence at the ceremony -- his first face-to-face meeting with Moon since the South Korean leader took office last year.
The ceremony was Lee's first public activity since February, when he was released from prison.
Lee had been locked up for nearly a year as a result of a bribery scandal that led to the ousting of Moon's predecessor, Park Geun-hye.
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