MOSCOW, Dec 4: South Korean Ambassador to Russia Woo Yoon-keun expressed hope on Monday that the country's parliament would soon endorse the initiative to sign a free trade agreement with Russia in order to launch negotiations with Moscow in early 2019.
"We, in our country, are completing discussions on signing a free trade agreement in the areas of investments and services. We expect that our parliament will soon endorse such a project so that we could discuss signing such an agreement with the Russian side early next year," Woo told reporters.
Relations between South Korea and Russia have developed significantly since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office last year, Woo added. "Since president Moon Jae-in took office, relations between South Korea and Russia have made a significant breakthrough ... Very good relations have been established between our presidents, as well as between our parliaments," Woo said at the beginning of his meeting with Vladimir Dzhabarov, the deputy chair of the Russian upper house International Affairs Committee.
He noted that Russian-South Korean trade cooperation was also developing. "We know that by the end of this year, trade between our countries will reach $20 billion, and by 2020, when we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, this figure will amount to up to $30 billion," Woo said.
The diplomat noted that the two countries had also been actively cooperating in other areas, such as culture, science and sports.
"We believe that in 2020, the number of mutual visits by our citizens will rise to 1 million people per year," Woo said.
On Monday, Woo held talks with Dzhabarov. The diplomat congratulated Dzhabarov on his recent appointment as head of the parliamentary Russia-South Korea Friendship Group, and invited the group's members to his residence early next year.