(ATTN: UPDATES with background, meetings with leaders of Turkmenistan, Saint Lucia, Bosnia and Herzegovina; ADDS photos)
By Lee Haye-ah
NEW YORK/SEOUL, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk Yeol held summits with the leaders of Sri Lanka, San Marino and seven other nations in New York on Monday (local time), kicking off a series of bilateral meetings arranged on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly to seek support for South Korea's bid to host the 2030 World Expo.
Yoon, who arrived in New York on Monday for a five-day visit, is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday and hold at least 30 bilateral summits on the margins, according to his office.
Yoon's last-minute push to win support for South Korea's Expo bid comes as member states of the Bureau International des Expositions, the international body in charge of overseeing the event, are set to cast their votes at the end of November, with South Korea's southeastern city of Busan competing against Rome, Italy, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
During a meeting with Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Yoon requested Sri Lanka's support and said he looks forward to long-term partnerships between their two countries in the areas of development cooperation, labor, climate change response, and trade and investment.
Wickremesinghe noted that Sri Lankan workers who were trained in South Korea are working as skilled laborers in his country and voiced hope for further trade and investment between the two countries through the signing of a relevant cooperation deal.
Yoon later met with the two captains regent of San Marino -- Alessandro Scarano and Adele Tonnini -- and called for the swift signing of a memorandum of understanding on tourism cooperation between the two countries.
The captains regent said they hope the two sides will establish the legal framework necessary for bilateral economic cooperation, including by signing a double tax avoidance agreement and an investment guarantee agreement.
In his meeting with Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye, Yoon called for increased cooperation in agriculture and health. He also invited his counterpart to the inaugural South Korea-Africa summit to be held in South Korea next year.
In his meeting with Czech President Petr Pavel, Yoon asked the president for his attention and support for South Korean companies' participation in the new nuclear power plant project in Dukovany, the Czech Republic.
Pavel said he hopes to expand cooperation with South Korea in the areas of energy, autos and express railways, as well as in producing batteries using Czech lithium resources.
Yoon also held a summit with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and the two leaders noted their countries' growing cooperation in green growth.
Frederiksen called for expanding cooperation to offshore wind power, environment-friendly vessels and sustainable farming.
Citing Europe's deep concern over last week's summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian President Vladimir Putin, she also pledged to work together with South Korea for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region.
In a meeting with Montenegrin President Jakov Milatovic, Yoon noted the fast pace of economic exchanges between the two countries, with Milatovic expressing special interest in cooperation in the energy sector.
During a summit with President Serdar Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan, Yoon said he hopes for more mutually beneficial cooperation based on the construction projects carried out between the two countries in energy and plants.
Berdimuhamedov requested the participation of South Korean companies in building a smart city in Arkadag, Turkmenistan, citing their abundant experience and skills.
Yoon also met with Prime Minister Philip Pierre of Saint Lucia, saying their two countries have long been friends sharing the values of freedom, democracy and human rights, and closely cooperating in development and other fields.
He added that South Korea will quickly work on Saint Lucia's request for assistance in repairing a cricket stadium in the island nation.
During a meeting with Zeljko Komsic, chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Yoon called for joint efforts to realize their two countries' cooperation potential through a recently agreed economic cooperation pact.
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