President Park Geun-hye returned to Korea on May 4, 2016 from her official state visit to Iran reportedly achieving a huge success in her economic diplomacy. According to an article contributed by Minister of Foreign Affairs Yun Byung-se to Maeil Kyungje business daily on May 5, 2016, during her visit Iran on May 2-4, Korea and Iran signed a total of 52 bilateral MOUs of economic cooperation totaling in amount US$37.1 billion, which accounts for about three times the total amount of construction contracts Korea had attained for 35 years from 1975 to 2010.
At a brief interview with the Korean Press Corps on the plane way home, President Park was quoted as saying, “I would say that we now could cause another ‘Middle East Boom’ and it is important for us now to use this opportunity as a momentum to boost our exports and achieve another economic renaissance.”
She said, “Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani expressed their wishes to promote strategic cooperation with Korea in various fields and I hope you would all extend a helping hand in the effort of the entire Korean people to resurrect their economy.”
On the North Korean nuclear issue, President Park said: “Traditionally Iran is a very friendly country with North Korea, but Iran openly published her opposition against North Korean nuclear armament and I would say that it is the arear where we could closely cooperate with Iran with an eye to realizing our aim of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.”
After a summit meeting with President Park in Tehran on May 2, President Rouhani told reporters, “We hope there will be peace on the Korean peninsula and we are opposed to any and all effort for the development of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.” Then he said, “It is our basic policy to oppose nuclear weapons development not only in the Middle East but also on the Korean peninsula.”
President Park returns home after successful Iran tour
President Park returned home after finishing her three-day state visit to Iran. A Cheong Wa Dae spokes told reporters on May 4, 2016.
President Park’s tight schedule in Iran included a summit with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as well as economic and cultural events. Her efforts were focused on creating a platform for Korea and Iran to make a leap forward going beyond the restoration of somewhat estranged bilateral ties caused by international sanctions against Iran.
First of all, President Park Geun-hye and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani adopted the Joint Statement on the Comprehensive Partnership Between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea, the first joint statement following the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1962. In the statement, the two sides reconfirmed their commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and denuclearization as well as reached a consensus on the principle of peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula.
On the economic front, a total of 66 MOUs, including those that could lead to deals worth about 42 trillion won, or US$37.1 billion, were signed, the largest-ever achievement in economic diplomacy. An economic delegation consisting of 236 business leaders accompanied the President on her state visit, which laid a viable foundation for Korean businesses to advance to the Iranian market, a critical pillar to generate a second Middle East boom, ahead of their competitors.
Some 123 Korean companies and 494 Iranian businesses took part in one-on-one business meetings and produced 31 deals worth 611.4 billion won, which is the biggest accomplishment in all aspects among the 16 one-on-one business meetings held overseas since March 2015.
President Park also briefed the Cheong Wa Dae press corps accompanying her in the presidential plane before departing for Korea. Noting that the visit was an excellent opportunity to create a second Middle East boom, the President said that she would endeavor to ensure it becomes the catalyst to recover exports and make an economic leap forward.
Korean-Iranian joint statement against nuclear weapons and supporting peaceful reunification of Korean peninsula
Korea and Iran have adopted a joint statement on May 3, 2016 in support of a world without nuclear weapons and the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula.
This comprehensive statement is the outcome of the Korea-Iran summit between President Park Geun-hye and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that took place in Tehran on May 2.
This is the first joint statement ever between Korea and Iran, ever since the two countries forged a diplomatic relationship in 1962.
The official name of the joint statement is the “Joint Statement on the Comprehensive Partnership Between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Korea.”
The joint statement is composed of seven sections: an introduction; a section that outlines cooperation on the political arena; a section that covers the economy, the arts, sports, education and tourism; a section that outlines regional cooperation on the Korean Peninsula and across the Middle East; cooperation on the judiciary branch; cooperation on security matters; and, a conclusion.
The two leaders expressed their support for the objective of a nuclear weapons-free world, reaffirmed their commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and denuclearization, and stated their support for efforts toward these ends.
They agreed that developing nuclear weapons can never enhance security. The two Presidents also emphasized the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
In this regard, the Iranian government supported the aspirations of all the Korean people for a peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula. “We support peace on the Korean Peninsula. In principle, we are opposed to any kind of development of nuclear weapons,” President Rouhani said at the joint conference after the Korea-Iran summit talks, mentioning his country’s “principle toward disarmament and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and in the Middle East.”
The joint statement also covered other areas of mutual interest.
In the political arena, the two countries agreed to regularize meetings between foreign ministers.
In terms of the economy, the two governments agreed to convene the Iran-Korea Joint Economic Commission on a yearly basis.
Also in the joint statement, both countries clearly outlined their cooperation on the energy sector, including oil and gas, and their cooperation on the joint stockpiling of Iranian crude oil in Korea for the benefit of providing a stable energy supply.
They agreed to strengthen cooperation on new energy industries, such as smart electricity grids, on the sciences, technology and information & communications, on maritime affairs, as well as on fishing, the environment and forestry.
In terms of the arts, sports, education and tourism, the two countries agreed to designate the year 2017 as the "Year of Korea-Iran Cultural Exchange" and to establish cultural centers in their respective capitals in the near future.
Tehran and Seoul expressed their will to establish a Korean-Language Department at an Iranian university as soon as possible.
Finally, the joint statement contained President Park’s invitation to President Rouhani to visit Korea and President Rouhani accepted the invitation to come to Seoul.
Korea, Iran hold summit meeting on May 2
President Park Geun-hye had a summit meeting with President Hassan Rouhani on May 2, 2016. At their summit, the two Presidents saw eye-to-eye on the necessity of restoring the trade volume between the two countries, which had sharply contracted following economic sanctions imposed against Iran.
President Park began by noting the need to rebuild bilateral trade which had dwindled to nearly one-third of the previous level. In response, Iranian President Rouhani proposed that the two nations work together to increase trade to reach more than US$30 billion within five years. He also called for Korean businesses to participate in the country’s infrastructure construction projects.President Park said Korea had come up with a financial package worth US$25 billion for joint infrastructure projects in Iran, the largest amount Korea had ever presented to another country, for which President Rouhani expressed his deep appreciation.
In addition, President Park proposed further expanding cooperation to cover healthcare, information and communications technology (ICT) and new energy industries. In reply, President Rouhani expressed the hope that the two countries would be able to work together in such areas as electric vehicles, agricultural machinery, garbage disposals and a sewage treatment system.
In particular, President Park suggested that the two nations actively cooperate not only in electric vehicles but also eco-friendly energy towns and seawater desalination.
Finally, President Park said holding a foreign ministers’ meeting and joint economic committee meeting annually was expected to accelerate bilateral cooperation on foreign affairs and the economy. She also emphasized that expanding bilateral exchanges in culture and education is also a very important task.