Former National Assembly Speaker Lee Man-sup contributed the following article on the occasion of Uzbek President Islam Karimov’s visit to Korea.
First of all, I would like to cordially welcome the upcoming state visit of President Islam Karimov to Korea.
It will be the sixth visit of a Uzbek leader to Korea since January 1992 when the two countries established diplomatic relations. During this time, Korean presidents have been to Uzbekistan three times with President Lee Myung-bak visiting last in May 2009.
Since 2006, the two countries have escalated their cooperative relationship to a higher level, having signed a Korea-Uzbekistan Joint Communique on establishing a strategic partnership.
Korea and Uzbekistan have successfully interacted in political, economic and cultural areas, as well as in the international arena. President Karimov took the lead in supporting the candidacy of then-Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-moon to the post of the secretary general of the United Nations.
He praised that Ban was a truly qualified diplomat, who was the best fit for the top U.N. job.
At the time, President Karimov was only the second head of state, who had publicly supported Korea for the highest post at the U.N., after President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.
President Lee and President Karimov have many things in common, including that both achieved landslide victories in presidential elections in the two countries in December 2007 and both started their new term as president in early 2008.
They are both well-known in the political world as leaders with immeasurable charisma, driving force, initiative and strong ambition for a fast economic development.
They also have a market-economy political background.
They have a very close personal relationship, which has been established since late March 2006, when Karimov visited Seoul.
Then-Seoul City Mayor Lee awarded President Karimov as an honorary citizen of Seoul City for his great input in promoting the friendship between the people of the two countries.
During Lee’s successful visit to Uzbekistan in May 2009, the two presidents once again expressed their strong will to further promote the relations of a strategic partnership between the two countries.
While in Tashkent, President Lee proclaimed a “New Silk Road Diplomacy,” which aimed at combining the vast logistics and transport infrastructure of Central Asian countries with Korea’s advanced IT.
In conclusion, I would like once again to welcome the visit of President Karimov to Korea and express my confidence that the strategic partnership and friendship between the two countries will further develop for the good of both countries.
The Korea Times,
February 10, 2010