By: Kang Seung-woo

The leaders of Korea and France adopted a new action plan Wednesday that highlights cooperation in economics, culture and education in order to strengthen the comprehensive partnership between the two countries.

President Park Geun-hye and her French counterpart Francois Hollande held their third summit at Cheong Wa Dae.

This is Hollande’s first visit to Korea since taking office in 2012 and also the first state visit by a French leader since former French President Jacques Chirac paid a state visit to Korea in 2000.

“We have adopted the action plan to further advance the comprehensive partnership between the two countries into a more forward-looking relationship in the 21st century and I believe it is the product of our discussions seeking measures to improve bilateral ties by holding a summit every year,” Park said.

She added that Korea and France can be good partners in pursuit of the creative economy and flourishing culture.

In response, the French President also expressed hopes that the bilateral cooperation will deepen, especially in the creative economy, which is Park’s flagship policy calling for generating new growth opportunities through merging different industries.

Under the action plan, Seoul and Paris are set to select five startups from each side next year for accelerator programs. The Korean startups can receive financial and other aid in France while their French counterparts can get similar support in Korea.

France plans to open the French Tech Hub, a French agency responsible for providing support for startups, in Seoul next year.

They also agreed to boost cooperation in the space sector and key technology for self-driving cars, as well as the development of biomarkers for liver cancer.

Along with the economic cooperation, they agreed to create a fund to support joint production of cultural content such as design, movies and music and seek joint efforts to attract more tourists.

In addition, France has decided to include Korean as one of the foreign languages for college entrance exams beginning 2017 and the two nations agreed to increase student exchanges by recognizing academic careers and degrees from each other’s higher education.

Also, the two nations agreed to cooperate to produce a new legally binding international deal to combat climate change, which is applicable to all countries and seeks to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.

France will host the U.N. Climate Change Conference later this month that is designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions scientists say are to blame for global warming.

As part of efforts to deepen political dialogue, they agreed to regularly hold high-level talks between their foreign and defense ministries to deal with global security issues.

Park and Hollande later observed the signing of six memorandums of understanding calling for cooperation in a broader range of areas, including economy, education, high-tech sector as well as space programs.

SOURCE: THE KOREA TIMES