By Kim Tae-gyu
NEW DELHI ― President Park Geun-hye arrived in New Delhi to start a weeklong overseas trip, which involves state visits to India and Switzerland as well as participation in a high-profile forum.
Park plans to have a summit with her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, Thursday, senior secretary for foreign affairs and security Ju Chul-ki said.
"After the talks, the two governments will sign a set of agreements, and Park and Singh will announce the details at a press conference."
Ju stressed the significance of the world's second-most populous country for Korea.
"We put great weight in our strategic alliance with India as the country is a mega-sized market with a population of 1.2 billion. Its economy, which is based on various services industries, is complementary to our economy," he said.
The two countries signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) in 2009 to substantially boost trade between them, but critics said it fell short of the performance of other free trade agreements (FTA).
"In order for us to reach that trade volume ($100 billion a year) by 2020, I believe the key is for us to upgrade the CEPA," Park said during an interview with Doordarshan TV, an Indian state-run broadcaster.
Park also came up with a very specific topic involving the country's No. 1 steelmaker POSCO, which has been negatively impacted by a long-overdue plan to build a plant in the Odisha region.
Originally, it planned to build a 4 million ton capacity factory in the city in Orissa State on the east coast of India by 2013 on its way to establishing a 12 million ton capacity mill by 2015.
The company was supposed to invest up to $12 billion in the project, which has yet to start due to environmental issues.
"I would like to draw your attention to the POSCO steel plant in Odisha. The project has long been stalled on account of various reasons and I sincerely hope we can make that project into a reality as soon as possible and thereby instill greater confidence about the potential investment climate for companies in India," she said.
Trip to Switzerland
After wrapping up her four-day visit to India, Park will fly to Switzerland to become the first Korean head of state to visit the European country since the two set up diplomatic relations in 1963.
Before returning to Seoul, she will take part in the 44th-annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, a mountain resort in the Eastern Alps region of Switzerland.
She will make a keynote speech at the forum that usually attracts some 2,500 global leaders in industry, politics and academia from around the world.
Park will return home on Jan. 23 after finishing her first overseas trip this year and the sixth overall since her inauguration.