February 23, 2019
Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:Namaskar, good afternoon and welcome to this special briefing on the visit of Prime Minister to Republic of Korea. This briefing is from Seoul.
Since Prime Minister’s arrival yesterday morning he has kept a very hectic pace and we had several engagements yesterday. Today he had a meeting with the President of the Republic of Korea and we just concluded the award ceremony. I have with me Secretary (East), Smt. Vijay Thakur Singh. I also have Jt. Secretary (East Asia) Shri Pranay Verma and our Ambassador in South Korea Smt. Sripriya Ranganathan.
Ma’am over to you just to give you a flair of the program and also the discussions which were held between the two leaders.
Secretary (East), Smt. Vijay Thakur Singh:Good afternoon. Prime Minister has just concluded a very successful visit to Korea. This is his second visit here. He was last here in 2015 when a Special Strategic Partnership was concluded.
This visit of Prime Minister follows the visit of President Moon Jae-in. He was in India in July 2018 and thereafter the First Lady, she had come to India in November 2018 and she was a guest at the Deepotsava in Ayodhya.
So this visit of Prime Minister is the part of a high level exchanges between our two countries. It shows the attention that exists in both the countries on the relationship because of the rapid development that has taken place on the various pillars of our relationship.
Raveesh had mentioned that it was a hectic and packed program. I would just give you broad outlines. Prime Minister had an opportunity to interact with the business, the parliamentarians, he had a meeting with the community and of course President Moon Jae-in hosted him for a private dinner which showed the warmth that exists between the two leaders.
President Moon Jae-in welcomed the Prime Minister as his brother and his friend. So there was the private dinner which was hosted by President Moon Jae-in and then there was one to one restricted meeting followed by delegation level talks.
I will give you the flavor of the discussions that took place and then give you the conclusion of the MoUs and the announcements.
Prime Minister and President Moon Jae-in had the opportunity to review the entire gamut of the relationship. They laid down the roadmap for the future and this is all based on the shared vision of people, peace and prosperity for the future.
As far as economic cooperation is concerned you would know that the bilateral trade is $21 billion, two ways, and the target that has been set is $50 billion by the year 2030. The whole focus is on seeing how we can push this target. We, as you know, ongoing negotiations on CICA review and its updation so those discussions will go on and would be a very important negotiation between our two countries.
As far as flagship programs are concerned, Make in India, Korea is very strongly behind the Make in India and they have invested already and in today’s discussion they have further interest in Make in India and other areas.
We have been able to conclude as you would know the MoU on Startup Cooperation. Prime Minister earlier when he was at the business community he had inaugurated the India-Korea Startup Hub. The idea is to create a platform where we get prepared for a relationship which is already strong in manufacturing and engaging in services to look at the fourth industrial revolution.
So this was the vision in which you can see the agreement that we reached on the Startups as well as the Korea Startup Hub.
We have looked at defense and there is already, as you would be aware, one joint venture that is already in India that is between Larsen & Toubro and Hanwha. They are manufacturing K9 Vajra. The discussion today was to and both the leaders announced the roadmap for future cooperation in defence co-production and in defence technology.
President Moon Jae-in also expressed interest in the defence corridors that we are developing in India, one in Tamil Nadu and one in Uttar Pradesh. As far as people to people exchanges are concerned there was an agreement to have a post stamp on Princess Suriratna, there was also understanding and you would be aware that there is a coproduction of a film on the life of Princess Suriratna between an Indian and a Korean film company.
Besides that in order to promote tourism President Moon Jae-in announced that they would be giving visa facilitation for group tourism, so that was one announcement. We on our part have already introduced visa on arrival for Koreans and there was an announcement from the Prime Minister that for visas for the Koreans who are working in India would be extended to three years.
We have had, there was exchange of views on global and regional situations. Let me at the outset here say that President Moon Jae-in strongly condemned the Pulwama attack as a terrorist attack and he has earlier written a letter to the Prime Minister expressing his support and solidarity on the fight against terrorism.
There was also discussion that, and in this context you would have noticed that one of the agreements that we have concluded with Korea is an MoU on transnational crime and terrorism. So that is one step which is being taken and that MoU has been signed today. So there is movement and there is solidarity expressed with India on the fight against terrorism.
Prime Minister on his part had appreciated President Moon Jae-in’s personal contribution to the ongoing discussions in the Korean peninsula and he expressed the hope that peace and stability in the Korean peninsula will be arrived at through dialogue and he extended India’s support to this end.
One of the highlights of yesterday was the unveiling of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. It was in the Yonsei University where there were a large number of students present and it was unveiled jointly by President Moon Jae-in and Prime Minister Modi. The First Lady was there as also was the former Secretary General Baan Ki Moon.
Baan Ki Moon was Secretary General when October 2 was declared as the International Day of Non-Violence.
The program ended today with the Seoul Peace Prize being conferred on Prime Minister. This is the 14th Seoul Peace Prize and it has been conferred on the Prime Minister for his policies for regional stability, world peace, for his economic policies which have improved the quality of lives of Indian and his social inclusion policies as well. Prime Minister accepted the Peace Award and he also announced that the money which was with the Peace Award, it is $2,00,000 which is about Rs. 1.3 crores, he said that he would give it to the Namami Gange project.
The prize is a very important prize and Prime Minister accepted it on the behalf of people of India. We have just concluded that ceremony and that would conclude the visit. But I can also say one other thing which Prime Minister during his stay did was he gifted a Bodhi Tree sapling to the Mayor of Gimhae.
Gimhae is the place where Princes Suriratna came and she lived there in Gimhae and Prime Minister gave it to the Mayor of Gimhae with the hope that the tree will take root here just like the friendship between India and Korea. I will stop here. Thank you.
Question: If you can just summarize that what is the major take away from this visit because this is the second visit of Prime Minister and this may be the last before the General Elections, so how do we look at it?
Secretary (East), Smt. Vijay Thakur Singh:The major take away from this is that the Prime Minister came to a country with whom we have a special strategic partnership. It is a country with which we have deep engagements in the economic field, we have defence engagements, spoke about possible cooperation in nuclear and space. It is a very important partner for us and if you look at it there has been a policy convergence between our two countries. Our Act East policy and Korea’s New Southern policy which is focused on strengthening relations between Korea and India.
There is a great convergence of views and it was decided by the two leaders that we should continue engagement on this particular issue. So Korea is a very-very important partner and the takeaways have been that you have seen the kind of warmth that exists for India, the kind of friendship that exists for India and the kind of esteem India holds here and you also saw that it is all recognized here and that is the Seoul Peace Prize which started at a point of time in history in terms of the Olympic Games, so it is a prize which has historical origin and to be conferred on the Prime Minister is also important. But the relationship is where both the leaders have invested.
Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:With this we conclude this briefing. Thank you all for joining.