Czech Republic Hopes to Join KEDO Project in NK

Article excerpt

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said yesterday his country, seeking to promote Korea-Czech business cooperation in third countries, hopes to take part as a junior partner in the U.S.-led project to build a nuclear power plant in North Korea.

Kavan, who left Seoul yesterday afternoon after a three-day visit, made the remarks in an exclusive interview with The Korea Times. During his stay in Seoul, he paid a courtesy call on President Kim Dae-jung and held a meeting with his Korean counterpart Hong Soon-young.

``We are interested in taking part in the KEDO (Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization) project. This is an example of our cooperation in a project in a third country,'' he said.

The Czech Republic, which operates three nuclear power plants, is a member of the U.S.-led international consortium set up to build two light-water reactors under the Agreed Framework created in 1994 in Geneva. At present, the three key KEDO members, South Korea, Japan and the United States, are seeking to launch full-fledged construction work soon in cooperation with other KEDO member states.

``We have technologies and experiences in building nuclear power plants. There is the possibility of supplying parts for the project,'' the minister said.

The foreign minister explained that his country joined the KEDO as an expression of its support for Seoul's initiatives to bring about peaceful solutions to many Korean issues. Last year, the Czech Republic donated $130,000 to the international consortium.

Minister Kavan noted that the Czech Republic's participation in the KEDO project will showcase the business cooperation between the two countries, adding that Czech firms are seeking to join South Korean firms engaged in large industrial projects in third countries as sub-suppliers.

The minister also invited South Korean banks and companies to join in the privatization of its banking system.

``For example, three major Czech banks are now being privatized as soon as possible. We welcome foreign investors,'' he said.

The minister voiced his support for Seoul's initiatives, such as the``sunshine policy'' toward North Korea and the creation of a multilateral security mechanism in Northeast Asia, adding that the Czech Republic has offered food and fertilizer to North Korea in a bid to make contributions to peace and security in the region. …