President Lee Myung-bak returned home Sunday from a trip to Indonesia and Thailand where he attended a regional democracy forum and held summit talks focused on boosting economic ties.
Lee began the trip with the Bali Democracy Forum held on the Indonesian resort island. In a keynote speech, Lee urged Japan to repent sincerely for trampling on human rights of Korean and other Asian women forced into sexual slavery for Japan's World War II soldiers.
On its sidelines, Lee held summit meetings with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
In Thailand, Lee met with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and agreed to launch preliminary talks toward a possible free trade agreement. The two sides also elevated their relations to a "strategic partnership."
Lee also made a strong pitch for Korean firms' participation in a $11.3 billion project to prevent flooding along 25 Thai rivers. In talks with Yingluck, Lee stressed that Korea can be the best undertaker of the project because it has successfully completed a similar project to refurbish four major Korean rivers.
Thailand began pursuing the project after last year's devastating floods. Yingluck has expressed keen interest in Korea's river refurbishment project that was aimed at preventing floods, preserving water resources and promoting tourism along the waterways.
Lee also paid a visit to a Korean War monument in Thailand. (Yonhap)