Uzbekistan and South Korea signed a $2.6 billion deal

Uzbekistan and South Korea signed a $2.6 billion deal to build a gas-chemical plant in the Central Asian state which their leaders said was "unprecedented" in Uzbek-Korean relations.

"Starting the construction of Ustyrt gas-chemical plant on the basis of the Surgil gas field will be an unprecedented project in the Uzbek-Korean partnership," President Islam Karimov told reporters in Tashkent after talks with his counterpart Lee Myung-Bak late Tuesday.

Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj (L) accompanies South Korea President South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak during a welcoming ceremony in Ulan Bator on August 22, 2011

Uzbekistan was opening up its vast mineral resources, oil and gas, uranium, precious metals, as well as car building, textile industry and communications sectors for Korean business, Karimov added.

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak noted that more than 180,000 ethnic Koreans live in Uzbekistan and that this presence was stimulating trade and cooperation.

"Successful completion of Ustyrt gas-chemical plant, which is the largest project in history of our relations, will be the best example of our cooperation," the Korean president said.

Uzbek state oil and gas company Uzbekneftegas signed contracts with South Korean GS Engineering and Construction, Samsung Engineering, Hyundai Engineering and Korean Gas Corporation to build the Ustyrt gas-chemical plant, which is in the far west of the country.

A total of 23 documents aimed to develop cooperation in different sectors, from hydrocarbons to sports and tourism, will be signed during president Lee's two-day visit to Uzbekistan, Uzbek officials said.

Uzbekistan and South Korea enjoy warm relations and trade turnover between the two countries increased to 31 percent reaching $1.6 billion last year.

AFP

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