S Korea President to visit Turkey for possible nuclear accord

S Korea President to visit Turkey for possible nuclear accord

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
S Korea President to visit Turkey for possible nuclear accord

A large business mission will accompany South Korean President Lee Myung-bak during his visit to Turkey later this week. AP photo

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will visit Turkey between Feb. 4 and 7 to potentially sign a nuclear deal, officials from both sides said on the weekend.

Lee, who will be the guest of both President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, will be accompanied by dozens of South Korean businessmen.

“He could sign a framework agreement on nuclear cooperation or ink a deal on our second or third nuclear power plant,” said one Turkish official.

Two years ago, Turkey and South Korea came close to signing a deal on Turkey’s second nuclear power plant in northern Turkey but could not finalize a deal because of complications.

Fukushima effect
Turkey then took on Japan instead of South Korea to finalize a deal but the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami at the Fukushima power plant put a potential agreement on hold until recently. Turkey will build its first nuclear power plant in southern Turkey with Russia.

Turkey and South Korea have agreed to sign a free trade agreement as soon as possible, which would pave the way toward balancing trade between the two countries, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said after talks Jan. 20 with his South Korean counterpart, Kim Sung-hwan.

The total value of South Korea’s exports to Turkey last year was $5.5 billion, while Turkey exported $500 million to the country. “We discussed how to surpass this imbalance in figures today,” Davutoğlu said. Both countries will aim to boost the trade volume to $10 billion in a balanced way, the minister added.

Military ties
Turkey and South Korea’s close ties and alliance dates back to the Korean War of the 1950s.
A team of Italian and Turkish companies is also seeking to win a South Korean contract for about 30 attack helicopters, worth around $1 billion, with the group’s T-129 gunship, a senior Turkish procurement official said.

Turkey and South Korea are also cooperating in Turkey’s main battle tank, the Altay, a howitzer program and the Turkish Air Force’s main training program.

The two countries have also developed civilian cooperation.