SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET IN HONOUR OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA, H.E. MR. LEE MYUNG-BAK
New Delhi, 25th January 2010
Your Excellency President Lee Myung-bak,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I extend a warm welcome to you Mr. President, to Madame Kim and your delegation on the eve of India's 61st Republic Day.
India and the Republic of Korea are both ancient civilizations. Cultural contacts between our peoples date back several centuries, enriching the bonds between our two countries. We, in India, have heard of the legend from a Korean classic, that a Princess from Ayodhaya in India travelled all the way to Korea some 2000 years ago to marry King Kim Suro.
The teachings of Lord Buddha constitute another enduring link from our past. The famous Korean monk Haejao, on his return from India to Korea in the 8th Century A.D., gave an invaluable record of the socio-economic conditions that obtained in India then. This symbolizes the intellectual exchanges which flourished between our ancient universities and monasteries. In that glorious age, Nalanda was a great seat of learning for scholars from all over the East, South East and Central Asia. Today, we are working to revive Nalanda University's glorious past and once again, make it a centre of academic excellence. We greatly value Korea's support in these efforts. Korea also enjoys the unique distinction of having one of the largest women university in the world, that focuses primarily on development of leadership skills amongst women. This, alongwith exchange of students, can be an area of cooperation between our two countries.
We, in India, admire the discipline and hard work of the Korean people that has turned your country into a modern, developed economy. The socio-economic transformation of the Republic of Korea is a source of inspiration. As far back as in 1929 Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, our national poet, wrote:
"In the golden age of Asia
Korea was one of its lamp bearers
And that lamp is waiting
To be lighted once again
For the illumination of the East"
Our shared values of democracy, rule of law, respect for human rights and the quest for peace and development, have brought us closer together again. India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Several Korean companies have chosen India as their global hub for production and product development. This is an excellent model which can harness the synergies between India and the Republic of Korea to mutual advantage.
The implementation of our bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement from the 1st of January this year will open new opportunities for growth in trade, investment and services. We are confident that businesses in both our countries will leverage the Agreement to mutual benefit and to the common advantage of our people.
We have raised our relationship to a Strategic Partnership. I assure you, that India will always take a long-term perspective of our bilateral ties. We will continue to work with you on regional and global issues. We are happy that the G-20 has become the framework in which we discuss international financial and economic issues. We welcome the fact that the Republic of Korea will host the G-20 Summit in November this year.
India and the Republic of Korea are two important countries in Asia. We work closely together in the East Asia Summit process. We believe that such an architecture should remain open and inclusive. We look forward to working with you in building an East Asian community for prosperity and peace.
We recall your earlier visit to India in 2007. The vision that you outlined then, for the growth of our bilateral relations had ready resonance in India. In the course of your current visit we have had fruitful discussions and signed several agreements. I am confident that this visit will prove to be a major milestone in our ever-expanding ties.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I request you to join me in raising a toast to:-
- the good health of President Lee and Madame Kim;
- the continued progress of the people of the Republic of Korea; and
- the expanding co-operation and friendship between the Republic of India and the Republic of Korea.