SEOUL, May 18 (IANS): India and South Korea on Monday elevated their bilateral relationship to "Special Strategic Partnership" and decided to hold their defence and foreign affairs dialogue in the "2+2" format, a joint statement issued here after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President President Park Geun-hye said.
South Korea became the second country after Japan with which India will now hold talks on defence and foreign affairs in the 2 plus 2 format - between their foreign and defence secretaries.
Seoul also expressed its intention to provide $10 billion for mutual cooperation in infrastructure projects in India, including smart cities, railways, power generation and transmission. Under this, its ministry of strategy and finance and the Export-Import Bank of Korea would provide $10 billion - the Economic Development Cooperation Fund being $1 billion and export credits $9 billion. The two governments and the EXIM Banks of the two countries will hold consultations to chalk out a roadmap on the issue.
The joint statement said India sees South Korea "as an indispensable partner in its 'Act East' strategy". Both sides agreed to work to find complementarities between India's Act East Policy and South Korea's Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI) in order to bring peace, stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region.
Both agreed that bilateral defence and security cooperation has large potential to grow and also agreed on further exchange of India-Korea parliamentary delegations.
In order to substantiate the Special Strategic Partnership, the two sides agreed to establish annual summit meetings; hold joint commissions led by the two foreign ministers annually; and strengthen partnerships between Indian and Korean institutions of defence education.
They also agreed to strengthen regular consultations between their National Security Council structures on security, defence and cyber issues; set up a joint vice ministerial level defence and foreign affairs dialogue in the "2+2" format and encourage greater cooperation between their shipyards for defence needs, the joint statement said.
President Park welcomed the 'Make in India' initiative and Prime Minister Modi invited the country to become a privileged partner in the initiative to which Park conveyed her appreciation, the statement said. Both directed their officials to hold consultations to leverage fully the potential of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
The leaders welcomed the signing of the revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement and to begin negotiations to amend the CEPA by June 2016.
Both sides are to explore cooperation in the steel sector to develop mutually beneficial projects, and welcomed the interest of companies for cooperation in the area of shipbuilding, including the construction of Indian vessels such as LNG carriers.
The Indian government expressed its hope for partnership with Korea to modernize the Indian shipbuilding industry and it was decided that a Joint Working Group would be set up to facilitate cooperation in shipbuilding.
Both welcomed progress in establishment of the Korean Industrial Park in Rajasthan and agreed that it will help Korean small and medium enterprises to benefit from 'Make in India'. A joint working group is to be set up in the field of electronics hardware manufacturing to boost co-operation and facilitate business collaboration through joint ventures and technology transfer on a commercial basis between Indian and Korean electronics manufacturing companies, it said.