SPEECH OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA, H.E. SMT. PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT THE BANQUET HOSTED IN HER HONOUR BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA, H.E. MR. LEE MYUNG-BAK
Seoul, 25th July 2011
Your Excellency President Lee,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be with all of you this evening in your beautiful capital city of Seoul.
The people of my country fondly recall Your Excellency's successful landmark visit to India last year, as Chief Guest at our Republic Day celebrations. My own State Visit to the Republic of Korea aims at accelerating the momentum of our bilateral relations.
Ties of history and culture between India and Korea provide a very good foundation for our efforts. Many of us in India know of the legendary Princess from Ayodhya, who traveled to Korea to marry King Kim Suro. Buddhism provides an enduring link between our societies. More recently, the visits to Korea of India's Poet Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and his description of Korea as the 'Lamp of the East' are an abiding bond between us. Let me thank President Lee, his Government as well as the city authorities of Seoul, for permitting the installation of a bust of Gurudev Tagore, at a public location in the city, where I paid homage this morning. We thank you for the honor you have done to India, with this gesture.
Our countries share values including democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights, which make it easy for us to work together, and cooperate in almost all areas of human endeavor.
In contemporary times, Korean industry has become legendary, and coupled with India's dynamically growing market, we have new economic opportunities which did not exist earlier. That we are making full use of such openings, can be seen from the fact that our bilateral trade grew 40 percent in 2010, and is continuing to show a similar trajectory this year too. Korean companies have become household names in India, and some of our best business houses are also investing in your country. We will work towards maintaining and enhancing these trends.
The conclusion earlier today of a bilateral Agreement on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, exhibits the strategic direction our partnership is taking. We are confident that our nations can also cooperate in areas such as defence and the peaceful uses of outer space.
The Year of India in Korea and a similar Year of Korea in India, have got off to a good start. The reciprocal establishment of Cultural Centers in our capitals is another good decision aimed at expanding our people-to-people exchanges. We are also working to promote greater direct air links between us, so as to encourage more tourist flows.
We congratulate Korea on its successful hosting of the last G - 20 Summit, and for steering in this premier forum, discussions of international economic issues, in a direction which serves the interests of the international community. We are confident that similarly, Korea will successfully host the Nuclear Security Summit in March next year. India will participate in that meeting.
Excellency, India is an integral part of the emerging economic and security architecture in East Asia. We are both members of the East Asia Summit process. As we are two countries with similar values, we look forward to stepping up our discussions and have closer coordination on regional issues. Similarly, I am very sure that our cooperation in international institutions, including the United Nations is set to expand.
Therefore, Excellency, the prospects for our Strategic Partnership are very bright indeed. India looks forward to taking our ties to a higher level.
May I conclude by raising a toast:-
- to the good health of President Lee and Madam Kim
- to the continued progress of the friendly people of the Republic of Korea; and
- to expanding and closer cooperation between the Republic of India and the Republic of Korea.