South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, who is on a two-day visit to India, has said that he will discuss ways to deepen bilateral cooperation and strengthen partnership as the two countries celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, Park Jin said India is an essential partner in South Korea's strategy for a peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
"This is my first visit to India as the Foreign Minister. This year South Korea and India mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relationship. It is half a century, a long time in our friendship and partnership. I am very happy to visit India to celebrate the special milestone in our bilateral relationship, Park Jin said.
"India is a very important country in our Indo-Pacific strategy, which we announced last year. Korea wants to play its role and responsibility to contribute to freedom, peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. In that sense, India is our essential partner," he added.
Referring to supply chain disruptions, technological competition and war in Ukraine, he said the common challenges cannot be solved by one country alone and there was a need for cooperation among countries which share core values such as democracy and rule of law.
"India and Korea have mutual interest and mutual possibilities of greater cooperation for the future. We are now living in a very challenging time. For example, the supply chain disruption, global technological competition, COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine and climate crisis and all these common challenges cannot be solved by one country alone and we need cooperation among the countries that have core values like democracy, free markets, human rights, and rule of law. India is such an important country to Korea in that sense and commemorating half a century of diplomatic relationship, we would like to upgrade our existing successful partnership with India. So, I am going to meet with my counterpart Jaishankar to discuss our joint efforts to promote our partnership and to explore possibilities in deepening and widening our cooperation," he added.
Talking about the key focus areas in sectors in which both countries can work together, the Minister said some of these include Artificial intelligence, big data and space.
"Important areas of special attention are of course, trade, investment and supply chain stabilisation...manufacturing sector and critical minerals...also in the area of science and technology, Korea and India have a lot to cooperate with each other such as in artificial intelligence, big data, biotechnology and space exploration. So, there is a whole range of possible areas for cooperation. I think that based on our 50 years of successful partnership, we should move forward to the future together," the Foreign Minister told ANI.
Speaking about India as a 'soft powerhouse' and the viral 'Naatu Naatu 'song from 'RRR' movie that was celebrated in India, Park Jin said he was happy that the Korean embassy here has paid special attention to the movie and that both the countries need much wide cultural exchange.
"Naatu Naatu dance is really popular in Korea. I saw the movie myself which is a fantastic movie and story. I think it was extraordinary and I am very glad that our embassy has given special attention to Naatu, Naatu and the movie. They demonstrated music, singing and dancing to the Indian public which I think is a great way to communicate with each other," the Minister said.
"I love Bollywood movies, I saw 3 idiots and Chennai Express. I think we need a wider cultural exchange between the two countries especially among the young generation to understand each other and to appreciate India's culture and vice versa," he added.
On the strategic partnership between the two countries, Park said that it is mutually beneficial.
"Korea and India have a special strategic partnership. This is very special relationship through which we can work together with the same vision towards the future and I think that we should make full advantage of this special relationship for our mutually beneficial relationship in the future".
Expressing optimism about India's G20 Presidency, the visiting Foreign Minister said that South Korea would be very happy to work with India.
"India has a very important responsibility to coordinate the interests of the members of the G20 countries and also the voices of non-G20 countries, we talk about as the Global South. Many countries have expectations from the G20 forum so that we can move forward for a prosperous future. Korea would be very happy to work together with India and to contribute to India successfully organising G20 summit in September this year," he said.
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