PM Lee and South Korea's President Park discuss trade, air services agreements

South Korea's President Park Geun Hye (right) shakes hands with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during their bilateral meeting at the Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit in Busan on Dec 11, 2014. PM Lee and President Park rea
South Korea's President Park Geun Hye (right) shakes hands with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during their bilateral meeting at the Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit in Busan on Dec 11, 2014. PM Lee and President Park reaffirmed the strong relations between Singapore and South Korea on Thursday, Dec 11, ahead of the 40th anniversary of the two countries' bilateral ties next year. -- PHOTO: AFP

BUSAN - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and South Korea President Park Geun Hye reaffirmed the strong relations between Singapore and South Korea on Thursday, ahead of the 40th anniversary of the two countries' bilateral ties next year.

The leaders also discussed updating the Korea-Singapore free trade agreement, and talked about a proposed air services agreement between both countries.

Mr Lee, who met with Ms Park on the sidelines of a summit to celebrate 25 years of relations between Asean and South Korea, said the partnership between the 10-nation bloc and South Korea has been been "fruitful".

Asean and South Korea have "both made a lot of progress during that period", he said, adding that he hopes the Asean-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit"will be able to give our relationship another significant boost".

On Singapore and South Korea, Mr Lee noted that both countries enjoyed a very good relationship and have cooperated in various areas such as medical technology and research and development.

Urging further collaboration, he asked officials from both sides to take an "aggressive look" into reviewing the Korea-Singapore free trade agreement, so it can make a "quantum leap" to be in line with other trade agreements that both countries have signed with other parties.

Singapore and South Korea inked the agreement in 2005. Bilateral trade between both countries reached $50.9 billion last year.

During the meeting with Ms Park, Mr Lee also brought up an air services agreement that both leaders discussed when they met last year, and said he hoped for progress on this front.

Under such an agreement, more flights would be added between Singapore and South Korea to cater to the increasing two-way flow of businessmen and tourists.

On her part, Ms Park said she looked forward to further cooperation between Korea's "creative economy" and Singapore's "knowledge-based" one.

"As we look ahead to the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties next year, we can expect to further promote links" between the two economies, she added.

Both leaders also said they looked forward to marking 40 years of bilateral relations next year.

Mr Lee, along with Ms Park and other Asean leaders, are in Busan for the two-day commemorative summit, where they will take stock of the co-operation between Asean and South Korea and discuss the future direction of relations among the countries.

They will also exchange views on international and regional issues of common concern.