Australian foreign minister to visit South Korea

16:54, December 14, 2009      

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Foreign Minister Stephen Smith on Monday departed Australia on a mission to negotiate a free trade agreement between Australia and the Republic of Korea.

Smith is on his second visit to Seoul since he was appointed foreign minister in 2007.

He will meet South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Prime Minister Chung Un-chan and senior diplomats during his two-day visit.

Smith said it was important to follow up Lee's visit to Australia earlier this year.

South Korea was an important trading partner and Australia's third largest goods and services export market, he noted.

Smith said he hoped to build on the Australia-South Korea security cooperation initiative launched in March.

Security issues would be on the agenda, particularly nuclear activity from DPRK, he said.

"I will discuss Australia and (South) Korea's common strategic interests with (South) Korean ministers," Smith said.

"This will include stability on the Korean peninsula and its denuclearization, the further development of regional architecture and (South) Korea's hosting of the G20 (Group of 20) in 2010."

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