Good to invite Korea to make fresh investments,but UPA must clear Posco to sound credible
The second Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul offered no surprises but highlighted a process of international consultation now firmly in place. The concerns flagged include the very worrisome question of loose nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorism. It is welcome that India is part of this international forum,since these are matters of concern to New Delhi,too,as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underscored in his warning about nuclear terrorism. But the real import of the prime ministers visit is the mutual commitment to their bilateral relationship expressed by Delhi and Seoul.
South Korea,the 15th largest economy in the world and the fourth largest in Asia,has of late begun to match its economic and industrial prowess with diplomatic activism as it showed by hosting the first G-20 summit in Asia in 2010. That this was Singhs second trip in less than two years should be placed in the context of the elevation of India-South Korea ties to a strategic partnership during President Lee Myung-baks visit to Delhi in 2010. This time,too,Singh and Lee emphasised greater cooperation in defence and security,wherein Seoul and Delhi share concerns about conventional and nuclear terrorism and common interests in ensuring maritime safety and security. There is talk of exploring joint R&D ventures and collaboration in the defence industry. India has also decided to establish a defence wing at its embassy in Seoul. The substance of bilateral cooperation,of course,remains economic and commercial. With the implementation of the India-South Korea CEPA in 2010,bilateral trade jumped by 70 per cent in two years to stand above $20 billion last year. The new target is $40 bn by 2015. Singh also invited Korean companies to participate in infrastructure projects in India. While Lee welcomed Indias bid to launch Korean satellites,Delhi and Seoul also talked about future cooperation in space.
India,nevertheless,will be tested in its ability to allocate sites for Korean nuclear reactors. Taking off from the bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement signed during President Pratibha Patils visit to Seoul last July,Delhi must now take advantage of this critical collaboration. South Korea is a productive rising power,a democracy,and shares its interests with India in structuring a stable balance of power in Asia. It is the UPA government stuck in its policy paralysis and political crises that is the worry. The Koreans have been patient and polite while Indias credibility has been sinking. The UPAs imperative is to deliver on the Posco project,stalled for several years now. Even as Seoul is invited to make fresh investments,Delhi must first clear the political path.