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S. Korea, EU call for ban on forced repatriation of N. Korean refugees
NOVEMBER 09, 2013 03:18  
South Korean President Park Geun-hye held summits with Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, and Jos Manuel Duro Barroso, president of the European Commission, on Friday and agreed to expand cooperation with the EU in the fields of small and medium businesses and science and technology. Park left Europe on the same day after wrapping up her eight-day visit to Western European countries.

○ Korea-EU Research & Innovation Center opens

During the summit with the EU leaders, Park said that she was once deeply impressed by an article saying that the EU would lead the global history because it pursues sustainable economic growth and that South Korea was pursuing a similar goal.

A day before the summit, the South Korean president attended a meeting with scientists and entrepreneurs of South Korea and the EU. Attendants include major EU scientists, including Timothy Hunt, a professor at Cambridge University and winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine; Helga Nowotny, president of the European Research Council (ERC); Joo Chirlmin, a professor at Delft University of Technology,

At the meeting, President Park said Seoul plans to increase the ratio of state support for basic scientific research from 36 percent to 40 percent. "Although the economic situation is not easy, it is important to support basic sciences from a long-term perspective for greater innovations," she said.

Park and the EU leaders signed an agreement for bilateral exchanges of superior researchers, paving the way for South Korean scientists to visit the ERC, an independent organization under the EU for supporting basic scientific research. The organization has supported 3,453 research teams with an annual budget of some 1.4 billion U.S. dollars. Eight scientists who received the support won Nobel prizes. South Korea is the second country after the United States whose scientists will be dispatched to the ERC.

The leaders also welcomed the launch of the Korea-EU Research & Innovation Center, which opened in Brussels on Friday. The center will serve as South Korea`s office in the EU and an outpost for the country`s scientists and venture start-up companies seeking opportunities in Europe. Japan, China and some other countries have already been operating such offices to tap EU networks of various sorts.

In addition, the leaders agreed to hold vice ministerial-level industrial policy meetings on a regular basis, starting this year, separate from the existing ministerial-level trade commission meetings. While the trade commission focuses on discussing trade issues between South Korea and Europe, the industrial policy dialogue will concentrate on ways to enhance industrial competitiveness and promote bilateral cooperation among small and medium businesses of both sides.

Under a "critical engagement" approach to North Korea, the EU denounces Pyongyang`s nuclear and missile development while leaving dialogues open to the North. The leader of South Korea and the EU agreed to increase bilateral cooperation, paying attention to the fact that the EU`s North Korea policy has many things in common with Seoul`s "Korean Peninsula trust process" championed by President Park.

They agreed that Pyongyang should abandon all its program for nuclear and missile development "in a complete, verifiable and irreversible way." They also expressed serious concerns over the North`s dire human rights situation. In particular, they shared the view that North Korean refugees` safety and happiness should be guaranteed and that the principle of no forced repatriation should be respected.

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