SEOUL : South Korea and Turkey signed an accord on Tuesday to cooperate in nuclear energy, raising the hopes of Korean companies that are chasing a deal to build an atomic power plant on the Turkish coast.
President Lee Myung-Bak and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul agreed to expand “substantial cooperation in various fields” such as trade, investment, energy, construction and the defence industry, Lee’s office said.
The leaders also attended a ceremony at which their energy ministers signed the memorandum of understanding on nuclear cooperation.
State firms from the two countries forged a preliminary deal in March to build a nuclear power plant at Sinop on Turkey’s Black Sea coast.
But Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yildiz has said Ankara remains open to proposals from other companies if they offer better terms.
South Korea, which generates 30 per cent of its electricity from nuclear power, is eager to export its expertise.
A consortium led by the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) last year won a 20.4-billion-dollar contract to build four nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates by 2020.
KEPCO and Turkey’s state-owned Electricity Generation have begun detailed studies for the plant at Sinop.
Tuesday’s pact marks the first time that Ankara has expressed an intent to cooperate on the proposed nuclear power plant project, Vice Knowledge Economy Minister Kim Young-Hak told Yonhap news agency.
The agreement urges both sides to reach an understanding on all commercial aspects of a proposed contract this autumn, he said.
Gul arrived on Monday for a three-day trip, the first by a Turkish head of state in 28 years. He is to visit a memorial for Turkish soldiers in the southern port of Busan on Wednesday.
Turkey dispatched 15,000 troops to fight for South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War and the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1957. – AFP/ms