Published : 2013-01-24 20:33
Updated : 2013-01-24 20:33
President-elect Park Geun-hye and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper agreed Thursday to push for a quick conclusion of a bilateral free trade agreement, a spokeswoman said.
The agreement came when Harper called Park earlier in the day to congratulate her on her Dec. 19 election, Park’s spokeswoman Cho Yoon-sun said.
“Prime Minister Harper said he hopes the two countries’ relations will develop further through a quick conclusion of a free trade agreement,” Cho told reporters during a press briefing.
“President-elect Park Geun-hye expressed her wish that outstanding issues in the FTA negotiations will be resolved smoothly.”
South Korea and Canada agreed last June to resume their free trade talks that have been suspended since 2008 over Seoul’s ban on Canadian beef imports due to concerns over mad cow disease. The ban was lifted early last year.
Park especially cited gas, oil and energy as areas for stronger cooperation and thanked the prime minister for Canada’s support for Seoul’s policies on North Korea, the spokeswoman said.
Canada’s “firm support” for South Korea will continue not only with regard to issues related to North Korea but also in various other areas, Harper was quoted by the spokeswoman as saying.
The spokeswoman said the two leaders also hoped for stronger ties between their countries as they mark the 50th anniversary this year of establishing diplomatic ties and 60 years since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
About 27,000 Canadian soldiers fought on the side of South Korea under the U.N. flag during the war and 516 of them lost their lives. (Yonhap News)