President Park Geun-hye shakes hand with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before holding a summit at the Indian presidential palace in New Delhi, Thursday. / Yonhap
By Kim Tae-gyu
NEW DELHI — South Korea and India agreed to shore up joint intelligence commitments by signing an agreement on the sharing of classified military information on the sidelines of a summit between President Park Geun-hye and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Thursday.
Under the enhanced bilateral relationship, they are expected to exchange sensitive intelligence, including nuclear proliferation activities by North Korea and Pakistan, their respective "rivals," more briskly. Pakistan and North Korea have been suspected of exchanging nuclear and missile technology.
Sources said the two countries agreed on cooperation in July last year when Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon met Park in Seoul (see the front page of Korea Times July 4 edition). However, Cheong Wa Dae strongly denied that.
Back then, the top Indian security official extended an invitation from Singh for Park to visit India.
"The two leaders welcomed the conclusion of the Agreement on the Protection of Classified Military Information, which they believe will contribute to enhancing mutual confidence and cooperation in the military field," a joint statement issued after the summit read.
Under the pact, the two countries will protect each other's military secrets. Plus, they will not share them with any third-party nations without prior written approval.
Park also voiced her appreciation to India, which is set to enable Koreans to visit the world's second-most-populous country without getting visas in advance.
"President Park welcomed the government of India's decision to provide tourist visa-on-arrival facilities to (Korea) nationals," the statement said. "The modalities will be worked out soon between the two sides."
After India finishes preparing for the change, Koreans will be able to receive a single-entry tourist visa, which would be valid for 30 days, on arrival at a number of designated Indian airports.
Park and Singh will also try to upgrade the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), a trade pact between the two countries that went into effect beginning 2010.
"Both sides shared the view that the CEPA has contributed to enhancing trade and investment flows between the two countries," the statement read.
"The two leaders reaffirmed the need to increase trade in goods and services and investment through the upgrading of the CEPA, and agreed to make every effort to complete the process at the earliest."
Toward that end, Park and Singh agreed that their trade ministers will meet in the first half of the year in Seoul.
Cho Won-dong, Park's senior aide for economic affairs, said that India was originally reluctant to revise the CEPA, which would include measures such as further tariff reductions, but it has changed its stance on the occasion of Park's visit.
Singh asked Park to take advantage of India's facilities in launching satellites.
"Prime Minister Singh reiterated the Indian offer of launching (Korea's) satellites on Indian satellite launch vehicles on a commercial basis," the statement said.