President Park Geun-hye held summit talks with President Alassane Ouattara of the Republic of Cote d?voire at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Oct. 7, 2014.
The two leaders discussed measures to substantially boost bilateral cooperation, cooperation in the international community and issues involving the Korean Peninsula. President Ouattara has now become the first leader from Ivory Coast to make an official visit to Korea.
President Park said that cooperation between Korea and Ivory Coast has continued to make progress since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1961, as it was the first African country to establish such ties with Korea. She also said that exchanges between high-ranking officials of both countries have become more active these days.
President Ouattara reminded those present of the vision of former Ivoirian President Houphouet-Boigny, who was the first head of state of Ivory Coast and who led the country to become Korea’s first African diplomatic partner. He expressed his hope that his visit could get inspiration from the “Korea-style development model” which achieved both peace and the development of democracy as well as of the economy.
The two leaders shared the common view that both countries have great capability to cooperate in the business sector, specifically in trade and investment, and agreed to make multifaceted efforts in this regard.
Park called for Ouattara to support and take an interest in Korean firms doing business there so that they could participate in state-funded infrastructure projects, such as road construction, port development, railroad construction and the building of thermoelectric power plants. She also asked for his support in the pharmaceutical and agricultural sectors so that Korean companies would be strong in both technology and price competitiveness. She said that if more such Korean firms could penetrate the Ivoirian market, it would contribute to upgrading the level of healthcare and agricultural productivity there.
Both leaders agreed to seek mutually beneficial cooperation in the energy sector by combining the mineral resources of Ivory Coast with Korea’s development experience and technical knowhow.
President Park pushed the opening of a Korean studies department at the University Felix Houphouet-Boigny, which would then become the first institute of higher learning to provide such studies in West Africa. She stressed that exchanges between institutes of higher education in the two countries could become much more active. She said her administration would promote people-to-people exchanges by undertaking related projects, such as invitational exchange programs for scholarship students. Park praised the taekwondo athletes from Ivory Coast who received excellent results at the 2013 World Cup Taekwondo Team Championships. She also said Korea would like to continue exchanges and cooperation with Ivory Coast in the martial art by sending taekwondo masters to the country.
In regard to issues involving the Korean Peninsula, Park explained to President Ouattara that Seoul would remain firm over the provocations and nuclear weapons issues stemming out of Pyongyang, but that it would keep dialogue channels open in order to build trust and to boost cooperation.
Mentioning Ivory Coast`s history, in which the country became the hub of West Africa by overcoming the pain of civil war, Park said that a reunified Korean Peninsula would be the starting point to develop peace and cooperation across Northeast Asia. She asked for the Ivoirian government`s support in these matters.
President Park praised President Ouattara’s efforts to solve regional issues, as he was chairman of the Economic Community of West African States for two years until March 2014. She also explained to him the Korean government’s new foreign policy vision for all of Africa.
The two governments signed four memoranda of understanding (MOU) concerning the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF). The money will cover the building of a national cancer center in Ivory Coast, other healthcare issues and economic cooperation. Both countries also signed provisional contracts on a visa waiver for diplomats and for official passport holders, and an Investment Incentive Agreement.
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