San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

South Korea, Costa Rica agree to explore free trade agreement

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea and Costa Rica agreed Tuesday to explore the possibility of a free trade agreement to build on their growing economic ties, the Costa Rican president’s office said.

The agreement came during talks between Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla and her South Korean counterpart, Lee Myung-bak, Lee’s office said in a statement.

“The leaders of the two countries agreed to joint efforts to create an environment [for expanding economic cooperation] to lead to free trade negotiations,” the  statement said.

The two nations also agreed to expand cooperation in the areas of renewable energy, the environment and green growth.

Lee welcomed Costa Rica’s intention to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the statement said.

Chinchilla backed Seoul’s policy on North Korea, agreeing that Pyongyang should carry out U.N. Security Council resolutions and international obligations.

Chinchilla, the first leader of the Central American country to visit South Korea in 11 years, arrived Sunday for a four-day trip marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

Her visit is focused on boosting trade, investment and other exchanges.

Export-dependent South Korea has already signed free-trade deals with the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the United States, Singapore, Peru, Chile and other countries.

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