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South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to visit India

India is set to roll out the red carpet for South Korean President Lee Myung-bak when he comes here as chief guest for the Jan 26 Republic Day celebrations – an honour reserved for special friends of New Delhi.

Lee will begin Jan 24 a four-day visit that will focus on scaling up economic ties between India, one of the fastest growing economies, and South Korea, an Asian economic giant. He will also go to Chennai.

Lee will be accompanied by his wife Kim Yoon-ok and a high-level delegation, the external affairs ministry said while announcing the visit.

A clutch of economic pacts are likely to be signed after talks between Lee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The visit is expected to give a big push to the much-delayed steel project of Posco at Jagatsinghpur district in Orissa, the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) into India at $12 billion.

Indian officials are working overtime to fast-track the project. A symbolic ‘ribbon-cutting ceremony’ to mark land possession clearances to Posco may happen when Lee is in India, sending the right message to potential South Korean investors.

Ahead of Lee’s trip, four officials from South Korean steel major Posco, who were taken hostage Thursday in Jagatsinghpur by villagers protesting against the company’s proposed $12 billion project, were released a few hours later.

–Indo-Asian News Service

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