UPDATE : 2019.6.18 TUE 11:49
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Leaders of S. Korea, Turkmenistan agree to boost cooperation

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow agreed Wednesday to continue increasing their countries' energy cooperation while also expanding their bilateral ties to new areas, including education.

In their first bilateral summit, Moon and Berdimuhamedow noted the countries have steadily improved their ties in various areas since they established diplomatic ties in 1992, which were upgraded to a mutually beneficial partnership in 2008.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (left) and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow shake hands before the start of their bilateral summit in Ashgabat on April 17, 2019.

"While noting the countries' bilateral ties have especially improved through their summit diplomacy that includes President Berdimuhamedow's two visits to South Korea, the leaders expressed hope that President Moon's visit to Turkmenistan will be a chance to create a new driving force for cooperation between the two countries," Moon's presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae, said in a press release.

The South Korean president arrived here on April 16, 2019 on a three-day state visit, also marking his first trip to Central Asia since he took office in 2017. He is on a three-nation tour that will later take him to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

Moon and Berdimuhamedow welcomed the construction of Turkmenistan's first petrochemical plant in Kiyanly, which was built by an international consortium led by a South Korean engineering firm.

They agreed to continue the countries' cooperation in the energy plant sector, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

"(The countries) have maintained friendly relations since establishing their diplomatic ties through various economic cooperation projects, such as the Kiyanly petrochemical plant," Moon said at the start of his meeting with the Turkmen leader, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.

"I believe we still have the potential to do many more things," he said.

Berdimuhamedow called for joint efforts to increase the countries' cooperation.

"I believe your visit will be a great help to both countries. The Republic of Korea is one of the very important partners to Turkmenistan," he was quoted as saying.

In a joint press conference held after their summit, Berdimuhamedow reiterated cooperation between the countries will benefit both sides.

"Cooperation between the two countries is in line with the long-term interest of both countries and their people," he said.

Moon said the countries shared the same goal of prosperity and peace in their region.

"We two leaders agreed to closely cooperate for peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in the Central Asian region. President Berdimuhamedow expressed his support and cooperation for our government's efforts to denuclearize the peninsula and establish lasting peace," the South Korean president said.

The leaders have also agreed to expand the countries' cooperation to new areas, including the health and medical care, ICT and environment sectors, which they said will lead to improvements in people's livelihoods in the Central Asian country, according to Cheong Wa Dae.

Moon explained his country's New Northern Policy, which is aimed at greatly boosting his country's economic and diplomatic relations with Central and North Asian countries, as well as Eurasian nations that include Russia.

"The two leaders agreed to harmonize the New Northern Policy that our government is emphasizing and Turkmenistan's strategy to build a logistics center so they will make practical progress that can benefit the people of both countries," Cheong Wa Dae said.

President Moon welcomed Turkmenistan's intention to become a member of the Seoul-based Global Green Growth Institute, and agreed to share his country's experience and technology in creating sustainable forests and dealing with water shortages, it added.

The leaders highlighted the importance of cooperation in the education and cultural sectors in promoting their people's mutual understanding and agreed to further expand the countries' people-to-people exchanges.

After their bilateral summit, the leaders attended a signing ceremony for 25 new agreements, including nine signed by their governments, on cooperation in various areas, including forestry and ICT.

Among those signed were an agreement to revise the countries' tax treaty signed in 2015 to further prevent double taxation and a memorandum of understanding, signed by their commerce ministers, on promoting cooperation in a wide range of industrial sectors ranging from energy, logistics and communications to finance, construction and broadcasting.

Moon and first lady Kim Jung-sook will later attend a state dinner to be hosted by their Turkmen hosts at the presidential palace.

Moon's visit to Turkmenistan will end on April 18, 2019 after a brief trip to the petrochemical plant in the western port city of Kiyanly. (Yonhap)

Son Da-som  edt@koreapost.com

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