PM embarks on 4-day South Korea visit tomorrow

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves tomorrow on a four-day visit to South Korea where he will seek to strengthen ties with the Asian economic partner and also participate in the Nuclear Security Summit.

During his visit to Seoul, Singh is scheduled to hold talks with President Lee Myung-bak on Sunday to forge closer economic ties. This will be the second official visit by an Indian Prime Minister to South Korea after the visit of P V Narasimha Rao in 1993.

The two countries will sign an agreement on simplifying issuance of visas and Singh and Lee would also issue a joint statement. "The Prime Minister?s visit aims to give depth and greater meaning to our Strategic Partnership and to the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement," Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said ahead of the visit.

Singh would also seek to strengthen people-to-people contacts between the two countries, strengthen cooperation in the field of science and technology, and also coordinate the thinking on matters relating to regional security and international events.
Singh is also scheduled to interact with leading CEOs of South Korean corporations on Monday morning.

On Monday evening, Singh will attend a dinner for the leaders attending the second Nuclear Security Summit. The leaders, including US President Barack Obama and 57 others, will review the progress made since the first Nuclear Summit held in Washington in 2010.

Steps to strengthen nuclear security and measures to prevent terrorists getting access to atomic weapons will top the agenda of the Summit. "The main objective of the Summit has been high-level attention on the global threat posed by nuclear terrorism and the measures that are required to prevent terrorists and other non-state actors from gaining access to sensitive nuclear materials and technologies," Mathai said.

The Summit is intended to take stock of the progress in implementing the Communique and Work Plan of the first Summit held in Washington in 2010 "as well as agree on new measures that would be reflected in the Summit Communique".

"A number of countries are expected to speak on steps taken to strengthen nuclear security after the Washington Summit in the form of national progress reports. These will be made public during the Summit," Mathai said.

Mathai said India was "committed" to the success of the Summit and the Prime Minister`s participation in the Seoul summit, as also the Washington summit, was a "demonstration of our high-level commitment".

To a question, the Foreign Secretary said there were no plans yet to have bilateral meetings with Obama or the Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

"It is not the theme of the summit. But Individual national statements may cover other issues including of the nature which you have mentioned," Mathai said to questions whether Iran would be discussed in the Summit. He said the focus of the Summit was essentially nuclear security and the measures to prevent terrorists from gaining access to sensitive nuclear material for malicious purposes.