The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and his wife Smt. Gursharan Kaur arrived..

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh and his wife Smt. Gursharan Kaur arrived at the Banquet lunch hosted by the South Korean President, Mr. Lee Myung-bak and his wife Mrs. Kim Yoon-ok, in Seoul on March 25, 2012.

Prime Minister’s Speech at the Banquet hosted by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak

Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s speech at the banquet hosted by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in Seoul today.“I would like to express my deep debt to President Lee and the gracious First Lady Madam Kim for hosting us today. I thank you for the warmth of your welcome and the cordiality of your reception.Excellency,We in India regard you as a great supporter of a strong India-Korea partnership. It was during your historic visit to India in 2010 that we upgraded our relations to the level of a Strategic Partnership.

We admire the way you have steered the Korean economy through the global economic downturn.

Excellency,

Links between India and Korea go back thousands of years. Lord Buddha’s abiding message of peace resonates among both our peoples. We know of the legend that a Princess from Ayodhya traveled here to marry King Kim Suro. I thank you for installing a bust of India’s great poet, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, who called your nation the ‘Lamp of the East’, in Seoul.

We have watched with great admiration the transformation of Korea into a developed economy. The people of India admire the determination, capacity for hard work and the spirit of enterprise that characterize Korean people.

Korean companies were among the first to respond confidence in India after we opened our economy in 1991. Many Korean brands are household names in India.

There is nevertheless immense potential for further economic cooperation between our two countries.

Excellency, India looks forward to strengthening political and security cooperation with the Republic of Korea. We welcome Korea’s growing role in international affairs and we see it as a positive factor for peace and stability. I recall Korea’s excellent chairmanship of the Group of 20 Summit last year. We look to Korea’s leadership to strengthen international cooperation on matters of nuclear security at the forthcoming Summit.

I am confident that under your inspiring leadership, Mr. President, relations between India and Korea will blossom even further in the years that lie ahead.

Ladies and gentlemen,

May I invite you to join me in raising a toast:

– To the continued good health and well being of President Lee and Madam Kim,

– To an enhanced and expanded Strategic Partnership between India and the Republic of Korea,

– To everlasting friendship between the Indian and the Korean people.”

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