By Lee Haye-ah
HANOI, June 24 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk Yeol wrapped up a two-nation swing through France and Vietnam on Saturday after making a high-profile plea for South Korea's right to host the 2030 World Expo and promising stronger cooperation with the Southeast Asian nation.
Yoon traveled to Paris on the first leg of his trip to attend a general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE), the international body in charge of overseeing the World Expo, and delivered a presentation before delegates from 179 BIE member states.
Speaking in English, he promised to make the 2030 World Expo the best of all time if the delegates cast their votes for Busan, the southeastern city bidding to host the mega-event, during the next general assembly in November. He framed South Korea's hosting of the Expo as an opportunity for the country to "give back" to the international community what it received amid the ruins of the 1950-53 Korean War.
"Thanks to the help of the international community, Korea transformed itself into an economic powerhouse full of high-tech industries and innovative technologies," he said. "Korea wishes to give back to the international community what it has received thus far."
Hosting the Expo was one of Yoon's campaign pledges and included among his administration's key tasks. The event has been expected to generate economic benefits of a massive 61 trillion won (US$48 billion) by drawing millions of visitors from around the world to engage in immersive activities around the themes of scientific, technological, economic and social progress.
Busan competes against Rome, Italy, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after the BIE eliminated Odesa, Ukraine, over its ongoing war with Russia.
Yoon used his trip to Paris to also hold a summit with French President Emmanuel Macron.
The two leaders agreed to cooperate closely to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, including at the U.N. Security Council following South Korea's election as a nonpermanent member from 2024-2025.
Yoon also asked Macron to help ensure new European Union trade laws do not discriminate against South Korean businesses.
From Paris, Yoon traveled to Hanoi for a three-day state visit aimed at deepening economic cooperation with South Korea's third-largest trading partner.
The visit came six months after the two countries elevated their relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of their diplomatic ties.
Following a summit with Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong at the presidential palace, Yoon said the two countries will strengthen cooperation against North Korea's nuclear threat and expand economic ties to increase bilateral trade to US$150 billion by 2030.
South Korea agreed to provide Vietnam with $4 billion in soft loans by 2030 as part of official development assistance.
The two sides also agreed to hold annual foreign ministerial talks and establish a center exclusively handling critical mineral supply chains in recognition of the large potential for cooperation on developing Vietnam's abundant rare earth elements.
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