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14 May 2009 / 02:25

As has been earlier reported, on May 10-12 this year the President of the Republic of Korea Lee Myung-bak paid a State visit to Uzbekistan.

As a part of the visit, which has served as yet another major step in further consolidating the bilateral ties between the two countries in various areas of cooperation, the Korean leader has had talks with his counterpart President Islam Karimov.

On May 11, following both their tête-à-tête and delegation level talks, the two presidents appeared before the mass media to answer the questions.

Below is an overview text on the outcomes of the said press-conference given by President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan and President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea.

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Opening the press-conference President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov has welcomed with pleasure the President of the Republic of Korea Lee Myung-bak and all members of the Korean delegation on the soil of Uzbekistan and had said that the State visit paid by President Lee Myung-bak to Uzbekistan has been considered as an important political and landmark event in the history of Uzbek-Korean relations, as a fine opportunity to analyze in detail, assess the current state and prospects of bilateral relations, as well as fill the Uzbek-Korean strategic cooperation with practical substance.

“At the moment, for us the Republic of Korea is a reliable and time-honored one of the leading partners the relations with which are acquiring the long-term and sustainable nature. Thanks to its assistance and support the most important projects are being implemented in our country to reform, modernize and diversify the economy,” President Islam Karimov said.

According to the Uzbek Leader, “the negotiations, which passed in an open and trustworthy atmosphere, have once again confirmed the firm political will of sides to consistently deepen and expand the versatile long-term cooperation that meets the interests of parties”.

President of Uzbekistan has noted the closeness and coincidence of positions and approaches of the two sides practically on all of the discussed issues.

“Uzbekistan supports the comprehensively balanced and well thought-out foreign policy of the Republic of Korea, the policy aimed at ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and entire world, addressing all disputed issues by peaceful diplomatic ways,” President Islam Karimov said.

It has been noted with pleasure the unprecedented growth of bilateral trade in 2008 which exceeded 1 billion US dollars – over 80 percent higher the indicator of the previous year. The volume of South Korean investments into Uzbekistan’s economy has exceeded 2 billion dollars.

The sum of technical and gratuitous aid to Uzbekistan rendered by the Republic of Korea reached more than 175 million US dollars. During this visit by President Lee Myung-bak to Uzbekistan the sides have signed the document on rendering assistance worth 12 million dollars to equip the Surgery Institute named after Vakhidov.
“I can say without any exaggeration that particularly the South Korea played a leading role in implementing the state program for cadres training in terms of organizing and equipping the colleges and lyceums with the cutting-edge computer technology – the practice which already bears its results and effectiveness,” President Islam Karimov has underscored.

The Uzbek Leader has reminded that his first visit to South Korea in 1992, as much as those paid afterwards, promoted the atmosphere of trust established between the two countries. He has expressed confidence that in the days to come the Republic of Korea would continue to play a leading role in supplying the Uzbek higher educational institutions, colleges and lyceums with the latest equipments.

The amount of the long-term credits in the sphere of education alone, which is considered a priority in Uzbekistan, now accounts for more than 220 million dollars.

President Islam Karimov has especially noted the “broad opportunities and prospects, which were opening up before the Korean businesses in Uzbekistan in implementing the strategically important investment and innovative projects aimed at firstly establishing the joint ventures on effectively using the rich sources of natural, mineral and hydrocarbon raw, precious and non-ferrous metals, supplies of uranium raw, in the sphere of automobile building and textile industry, information technologies and telecommunications.”

“I think there is no need to speak about the significance and prospects of establishing and developing along with the Korean Air Company of the multi-modal logistics center on the basis of the Navoi Airport, which in the nearest perspective may turn into a transcontinental transport hub for Central Asia, South Asia and Middle East,” President Islam Karimov added.

The substantial prospects are opening up in terms of creating the free industrial and economic zone in the city of Navoi on the basis of logistics center for the development of which the unprecedented benefits and preferences are expected.

“During this visit we have signed the unprecedented big package of documents, which yet more strengthens the legal basis of our relations. By now 120 documents have been signed, which are important particularly in extending the cooperation. Today over 35 documents, which will even more consolidate the legal basis of bilateral relations, are being added up to the list,” President Islam Karimov has underscored.

Also, the President of Uzbekistan has noted that “today, among other very important documents, the sides have signed the intergovernmental Agreement on visa-free travel of citizens-holders of diplomatic passports, which serves as a concrete confirmation of liberalization of our relations and substantial opportunities opening up in the cooperation between our countries.”

“It gives me a profound pleasure today to announce that by the decision of the University of World Economy and Diplomacy in Tashkent the title of an Honorary Doctorate will be conferred on the President of the Republic of Korea Mr. Lee Myung-bak,” President Islam Karimov said. “And in this I see a very important step for us in strengthening the relations between not only the businesses, higher educational institutions, but on the whole the relations between Uzbekistan and the Republic of Korea, the recognition of the role played today and secured by the outstanding leader of South Korea Mr. Lee Myung-bak.”

“I wanted to visit Uzbekistan a long ago,” President of the Republic of Korea Lee Myung-bak said in his turn, “and I am very glad that I am paying a State visit to Uzbekistan. Yesterday and today we have held talks on bilateral and regional issues. During the negotiations I have understood that our positions – the positions of Leaders of the two countries on these issues practically coincided which I am very glad about.”

According to the Korean leader, “there are much in similar in the mentality and culture between the Uzbek and Korean people. At the moment, over 180 thousand ethnic Koreans are staying in Uzbekistan. In this respect, our relations are very close.

The ethnic Korean had to move to Central Asia 70 years ago. Now they do not speak the Korean language. Yet they occupy a firm place in the Uzbek society demonstrating their potential opportunities in all spheres in Uzbekistan. I am very glad about it.”

“Before I came to Uzbekistan and during my visit I have realized that Uzbekistan indeed dynamically developed even in the conditions of the global financial and economic crisis. It demonstrates the high growth rates and stably develops given the political stability as a result of the stage-by-stage economic reforms being carried out under the leadership of President Islam Karimov.

Uzbekistan is our main partner in Central Asia. I am very glad that Uzbekistan achieved such successes. This time I have become convinced on my own of such achievements of the country. I would like to praise its development,” President Lee Myung-bak said.
According to the South Korean leader, “in the conditions of the global financial crisis the role and authority of Asia will grow. And therefore, it could be said that Asia will differ from that it used to be during the last economic crisis.”

“Early this year I have announced my new initiative – the “new Asian diplomacy”, which is aimed at strengthening cooperation and strategic partnership with Uzbekistan. President Islam Karimov has already given me his support on this issue, which I would like to applaud,” President Lee Myung-bak said.

Speaking about the Tashkent talks, President of the Republic of Korea Lee Myung-bak said that the sides “have discussed the issues of international situation around Central Asia, Islamic culture and history of Islamic world, as well as the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We have held negotiations in an open atmosphere and President Mr. Islam Karimov gave his objective assessment on these issues. I agree with positions of the Uzbek Leader, who maintains a profound knowledge on them.”

Speaking about the significance of implementing the concrete projects in developing the bilateral economic cooperation, the South Korean President said that “President Islam Karimov supported the implementation of the Korean energy strategy and policy. Uzbekistan stands ready to render an active support to the South Korean companies in terms of participation in the energy and mineral resources projects, as well as diversifying the industry. We have discussed the project of turning the airport of the city of Navoi into the international logistics center and creating the free industrial-economic zone there. We have agreed to closely cooperate in the issues of Korea’s participation at these projects. In a bid to enhance the mutual understanding and friendship between our people we have also agreed to closely cooperate in the spheres of education, sport and tourism.”

The sides have reached an agreement to make the joint efforts in terms of reconstructing Afghanistan’s economy. The two leaders have also welcomed the recent taking effect of the Treaty on Establishing the Nuclear-Free Zone in Central Asia. They have agreed to consolidate cooperation on the international arena, including in the framework of the United Nations, vis-à-vis effectively reacting to the important global problems, including on non-proliferation of a nuclear arm and combating international terrorism.

Speaking about that on what the close and dynamic relations between Uzbekistan and Korea are being built upon, President Islam Karimov said: “They are being built, above all, on that there is a lot in the mentality of Koreans and their national character that is close or coincides with the mentality of the Uzbek people. These are, firstly, the enormous diligence, tolerance, and most importantly, firmness of purpose, belief in the future, kindness and hospitality. And I believe that particularly on such basis our relations are being built.”

Answering the question asked by the Korean reporter on how the Leadership of Uzbekistan assessed the outcomes of interaction of strategic partners for over the last years, President Islam Karimov said that the relations with South Korea have always been treated in Uzbekistan with a special attention, enormous hopes and vision of profound prospects. 150 documents are signed between the two countries, which create the legal basis of bilateral relations, and signing of the Declaration on strategic partnership in 2006 serves as a logical addition to the store of documents, which was created for over the past period of cooperation.

Speaking of the essence of the notion of “strategic partnership”, Islam Karimov said that it is, first of all, the relations of trust, the relations when the two countries are open for one another. How does it influence the bilateral relations? “For this, suffice it to follow the dynamics of economic, political, cultural and humanitarian relations. Today Uzbekistan is practically open in the issues of using our richest mineral resources and raw. But the most main confirmation of implementation of this document (Declaration on strategic partnership) I see firstly in the qualitatively new relations established between the Leaders of two countries,” the Uzbek Leader has underscored.

Asked about the “The natural resources and energy strategy doctrine of the Republic of Korea” declared last year by the South Korean President, as well as the prospects of further developing the bilateral investment cooperation in this direction, President Lee Myung-bak said: “During inauguration last year I have indeed announced my initiative of the “energy diplomacy”. Later after that I met with President Mr. Islam Karimov. Then he has expressed his active support towards implementation of this initiative. Mr. President has also said that Uzbekistan stood ready to actively cooperate in the sphere of energy and mineral resources. Therefore, the result is obvious. The South Korean companies have already been working in various spheres, including in the oil and gas, and other energy sectors. We also stand ready to assist to diversify Uzbekistan’s industry.”

Answering the question asked by the Korean journalist concerning the role of both countries and prospects of development of bilateral relations given the implementation of the “New Asian diplomacy” initiative, President Lee Myung-bak said as follows: “Today we observe the active process of regional cooperation in the world. Asia in the 21st century will differ from what it used to be in the past. Its authority will increase in the international system of relations. Asia, in particular, may turn into the international center in the future. Asia, including the East Asia and Central Asia may develop together. My initiative is aimed at strengthening the relations with all states, including those in Central Asia. When the global financial crisis will be over, then the role of Asia will grow in the new international order. I think that particularly the Asia may play an important role in overcoming the current economic crisis. I would like to once again underscore that my initiative is aimed at gaining a mutual benefit along with all Asian states. I am very glad that President Mr. Islam Karimov rendered me his support in implementing this initiative. Indeed, I want my initiative will allow all countries to achieve the joint prosperity in the days to come.”

In his turn, President Islam Karimov has noted that he was “sincerely glad that as the President of the Republic of Korea announced his initiative in Indonesia he had put forward very serious issues, which as if define the prospect, the strategy of our development – the development of practically not only the Asian region, but also other regions, which are linked with Asia. It is very important that the Republic of Korea as a state, which is among the ten most developed countries of the world and most important country of the Asia-Pacific Region, and in his strategy the President of his country also reserves the place for Central Asia, and Uzbekistan, in particular. The Republic of Korea has long-standing historical ties with the East, Northeast, Southeast and South Asia – this took shape for over many centuries, and yet Central Asia is for you – Mr. President – an absolutely new object or springboard. And the fact that you have paid attention to it and are including it to your strategy – this is very important for us. I would like to repeat that Central Asia is not only a new springboard, this is an absolutely beneficial and perspective springboard.”

Supporting the view of President Lee Myung-bak that practically Asia as one of the first may overcome the financial and economic crisis, President Islam Karimov has also said that “discussing this issue the sides have agreed on that after all the United States will be the first to overcome this protracted global crisis. This is the first economy in the world, the most powerful economy and the export of very many Asian countries is tied up to the United States: the export of Japan, export of China, and certainly, the export of South Korea, including the one of India. As an outcome, unless the United States won’t overcome this crisis then there won’t be the increase in demand as much as tackling this crisis which now the export of the most powerful countries of Asia suffers from.

I think that the initiative comes on time. It allows to purposefully build one’s diplomacy and as the President of Uzbekistan, located in Central Asia, and as the country, which sees substantial prospects in developing the cooperation with South Korea, I sincerely welcome this initiative.”

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At the second half of the day the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov and President of the Republic of Korea Lee Myung-bak met with the representatives of business circles of the two countries.

Taking a floor at the meeting, President Islam Karimov said in particular that “this State visit of the President of the Republic of Korea Lee Myung-bak was a wonderful and good opportunity not only to asses, allow to once again look back and have a glance at everything what has been accomplished for over the past period in our joint cooperation, but also it has served as an enormous opportunity to pinpoint the prospects of further developing our cooperation between the Republic of Korea and Uzbekistan.

We are establishing the international multimodal logistics center, the international hub, which not only links Korea with Uzbekistan, practically with entire East Asia and Southeast Asia, will connect not only with Uzbekistan and Middle East, and if you wish, with Europe and Northern states.”

“I propose to go from the system of interaction and cooperation in the perspective towards integration of Uzbekistan’s economy with the one of South Korea. I call on you all to be participants of this process. Allow me once again to thank you for Your vision of Uzbekistan’s prospects. Allow me once again in Your presence to welcome the friend of Uzbekistan – President Lee Myung-bak as an outstanding leader of South Korea,” President Islam Karimov said.

In his reciprocal speech President Lee Myung-bak said:

“A year has already passed since my inauguration. I have met with many heads of states and I haven’t seen such a Leader who with such firmness of purpose stands up for the fate of his country. I think You will agree with me. I believe that President Islam Karimov is an outstanding political leader. I think that his foresight has made an impression on you all.

The history of humankind is built by outstanding people, who do both all possible and impossible for their country. President Islam Karimov does everything for the future of Uzbekistan and in our turn, we are interested in expanding the interaction with Your country, deepening the partnership.”

Written and translated into English at the Information Agency "Jahon"