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Posted : 2012-11-07 21:06
Updated : 2012-11-07 21:06

Lee in Indonesia to attend democracy forum, summit

By Kang Hyun-kyung
President Lee Myung-bak waves as he boards the presidential jet for visits to Indonesia and Thailand along with first lady Kim Yoon-ok at Seoul Airport in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday. He will attend a democracy forum in Bali before travelling to Bangkok on Friday.
/ Yonhap
President Lee Myung-bak left for Indonesia Wednesday to attend a regional democracy forum and have summit talks with his counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on ways of expanding economic cooperation and exchanges between the two countries.

Lee is scheduled to co-chair the Bali Democracy Forum on Thursday and Friday on the Indonesian resort island, together with host Yudhoyono and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Representatives from about 70 countries, including about 11 heads of state plan to attend the forum, founded by Indonesia in 2008 to promote democracy in the region with the purpose of sharing exemplary practices and experiences among Asia-Pacific nations.

During a key-note speech for the opening ceremony on Thursday, Lee plans to emphasize democracy as a universal value and the need to encourage it to promote international peace and prosperity.

On the sidelines, Lee is set to have a summit with Yudhoyono on measures to expand bilateral ties between Korea and Indonesia, which mark their 40th anniversary next year.

Two-way trade reached $30.7 billion last year compared to $14.9 billion in 2007. The two nations plan to expand the trade to $50 billion in 2015 and to $100 billion in 2020.

The two countries launched official negotiations this year to create a comprehensive economic partnership agreement, which is a free trade deal. Officials said they plan to speed up negotiations to forge the envisioned deal as early as possible.

Indonesia is the biggest Southeast Asian buyer for Korea's defense industry. Last year, the country awarded two massive contracts to Korea, one of them to purchase submarines and the other to purchase T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jets.

Lee will be the first Korean president to make an official bilateral visit to Thailand in 31 years. Some of his predecessors have visited the country in between, but all of those trips were to attend multilateral conferences, such as ASEAN plus three summits, not official bilateral visits.

Saturday's summit is expected to center on ways to expand trade, investment and other substantial cooperation. The sides also plan to sign a memorandum of understanding calling for upgrading their ties to a "strategic partnership," officials said.


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