(ATTN: UPDATES with leaders' remarks in paras 6-10; ADDS photo)
SEOUL, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Ethiopia agreed during a summit between their leaders in Seoul on Monday to launch a joint committee, led by their top diplomats, for deepening bilateral partnerships.
President Moon Jae-in and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, who's on a state visit to South Korea, shared a view that the two sides need to expand their traditional friendly ties to "mutually beneficial, substantive" cooperation in such sectors as trade, investment, development cooperation, forestry and environment, according to Cheong Wa Dae.
The leaders agreed to seek "concrete ways for cooperation" via the ministerial joint committee to be established on the occasion of their summit, it added.
The foreign ministers of the two sides signed a related memorandum of understanding (MOU).
The committee will hold a session every two years with a focus on discussing how to strengthen cooperation in various fields, including politics, business, consular affairs, culture, technology, education and science.
Speaking at the start of the talks, Moon expressed his appreciation for Abiy's "passion and efforts" for regional peace. Earlier this year, Abiy won the UNESCO Peace Prize especially for having been the instigator of a peace agreement between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Eritrea.
"We will also do our best until the end, together with the international community, for complete denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula," Moon said.
In response, Abiy said he hopes to see the two Koreas improve their relations and reaffirmed firm support for South Korea's peace initiative.
In order to facilitate bilateral trade and investment, the leaders also agreed on the need for an investment promotion and protection agreement.
Abiy said Ethiopia is "getting lots of inspirations from South Korea's development model" like many other African nations do.
Moon asked the Abiy administration to pay more attention to possible problems and other difficulties that South Korean firms suffer while operating in Ethiopia.
Immediately after their Cheong Wa Dae summit, the two sides also signed MOUs on visa waivers for diplomatic and official passport holders and cooperation on environment and standard-related systems.
Under another MOU signed the same day, South Korea will provide the African nation with US$86 million in project loans for the construction of research centers at Adama Science and Technology University.
Ethiopia is a time-honored friend of South Korea as the sole African country that dispatched ground troops to help it fight against invading North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War. It sent 3,518 service members. Among them, 122 were killed and 536 were wounded.
Ethiopia, home to the African Union, consisting of 55 member states, is South Korea's largest African partner in development cooperation.
Abiy arrived in Seoul on Sunday, along with his wife, for his first trip to South Korea since June 2013 as a member of a parliamentary delegation.
He became the first Ethiopian leader to travel to South Korea in eight years. He served as head of the friendly association of South Korean and Ethiopian lawmakers from February 2012 till April 2018.
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