During an official state visit by President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye following her attendance of the ASEM11 Summit, on July 17 and 18, an agreement was signed to cooperate on 14 projects in Mongolia. The projects include urban development schemes and infrastructure programs to build power plants and railway, and to expand electricity transmission networks, and are estimated to be valued at 4.49 billion USD in total, according to Yonhap News Agency. On Sunday, the President of Mongolia and President Park held bilateral talks, where President Ts.Elbegdorj recalled his visit to Korea two months ago and expressed satisfaction that the projects that the sides discussed during his visit are now ready to be implemented. President Park congratulated Mongolia on successfully hosting the ASEM Summit and stressed that Mongolia has positively changed in terms of economy and democracy since her first visit in 2009. The parties discussed bilateral cooperation documents and issues related to trade, economy, and infrastructure. The counterparts agreed on Sunday to seek a bilateral free trade pact to pursue a bilateral economic partnership agreement (EPA), and to build an institutional framework to bolster mutual trade and investment, according to the Cheong Wa Dae, the Office of the President in Seoul. To formalize the agreements, the two sides signed 20 memorandums of understanding (MOUs). During her visit, Park is being accompanied by a large business delegation consisting of 109 South Korean firms, mostly SMEs. If Mongolia concludes an EPA with South Korea, it would be its second such foreign trade agreement after its first signed trade pact with Japan, which took effect last month. Under the agreement signed on Sunday, South Korea and Mongolia plan to initiate a joint study on the trade deal later this year or early next year, after discussing the scope of the research and the researchers selected to carry it out. The two sides will launch EPA negotiations after the conclusion of the joint research says KBC World. According to Yonhap News, some of the MOUs signed are related to infrastructure projects that Mongolia has been carrying out to support its massive development of mines, such as those to build power plants and infrastructure needed to transport mineral resources and expand sales networks. Ulaanbaatar's projects to construct power plants and energy transmission networks are estimated to cost 2.7 billion USD. The two countries also signed a pact under which South Korea will provide Mongolia with 170 buses manufactured by South Korean firms, purchased in the form of loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund, a state fund designed to support developing countries. The two sides also signed an MOU on forestry cooperation to limit desertification in Mongolia and the spread of "yellow dust" from the Gobi to the Korean Peninsula. Other MOUs signed aim to bolster bilateral cooperation in mutual investment, new sources of renewable energy, telemedicine, culture, agriculture, social welfare, health insurance, electronic administration, and other areas. In addition, Mongolia has requested that the Government of the Republic of Korea reconsider the amount of Mongolian workers allowed to enter Korea with employment contracts, to review visa terms, and to consider increasing the number of governmental scholarships for Mongolian students in order to expand bilateral cooperation in culture and education.
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