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Lee Arrives in Mexico for G20 Summit on Latin America Swing
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South Korean President Lee Myung-bak arrived in Mexico on Sunday for a G20 summit with other global leaders expected to focus on the worsening eurozone debt crisis amid worries it could spread beyond the single-currency bloc.

The summit, set for Monday and Tuesday, comes about a week after Spain announced plans to seek a bailout, the fourth nation in the 17-member zone to do so, and a day after Greece held a crucial election that may result in the country's exit from the euro.

Greece's possible exit is feared to roil not only Europe, but also the global economy as well.

Lee plans to discuss with other world leaders tackling the eurozone debt crisis, coordination of macroeconomic policies, strengthening the international financial system, and other challenges during the summit in Mexico's Pacific coastal city of Los Cabos.

"A main point of discussions will be resolving the eurozone crisis," a senior presidential official said in a briefing to preview the summit. "Europe's roles are important in resolving the crisis, but what is also important is policy coordination among G20 nations."

The Group of 20 major economies forum, which was launched in late 2008 to tackle the financial turmoil that was then sweeping the globe, boils down to how to stabilize the global economy, which is a crucial issue to open economies like South Korea, the official said.

Ahead of the leaders' summit, Lee plans to attend a conference of about 100 top global business leaders and deliver a keynote speech about the roles governments and businesses should play to help overcome the global financial crisis and promote sustainable development, officials said.

Mexico is the first leg of Lee's four-nation trip to Latin America that will also take him to Brazil for a U.N. conference on sustainable development, known as the "Rio+20" summit, as well as Chile and Colombia later this week for bilateral visits.

The U.N. conference in Rio de Janeiro is massive in scale, set to bring together a total of 50,000 people from around the world, including government representatives from 186 countries, especially 78 heads of state.

During a keynote speech at the conference, Lee plans to make a pitch for "green growth" as a solution to global challenges, such as the economic crisis, the widening gap between rich and poor, climate change and the decline in biodiversity, officials said.

Lee believes the strategy will provide South Korea with fresh growth engines for its economy and help the country -- one of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters -- reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases amid growing calls to curb global warming.

Under the drive, South Korea established the think tank Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in 2010 to help develop strategies to promote the environment-friendly cause. GGGI has since opened a series of overseas offices, beginning with one in Denmark last year.

On the sidelines of the Rio+20 summit, representatives from South Korea and 14 other countries will sign a treaty that turns GGGI into an official international organization, with Lee and about 10 heads of state attending the signing ceremony. GGGI will become an international organization after the signatories ratify the treaty.

Lee also plans to attend the Denmark-organized Global Green Growth Forum.

During a three-day visit to Chile, Lee will hold a summit with President Sebastian Pinera on June 22 to talk mainly about expanding economic cooperation, especially in such areas as resources development, infrastructure construction, renewable energy and the defense industry.

Also scheduled are a meeting with Chilean business leaders and a meeting with South Korean residents. The government of Santiago also plans to award Lee honorary citizenship in recognition of his contributions to strengthening ties between Seoul and the Chilean capital when Lee served as Seoul mayor in 2002-2006.

Chile, which is rich in copper and other natural resources, is the first foreign nation that signed a free trade agreement with South Korea. This year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

On the last leg of the trip, Lee will make a state visit to Colombia on June 23-25.

Lee and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos will hold a summit on June 25 to discuss ways to deepen all-round cooperation, especially in areas such as trade and investment, infrastructure construction and resources development, science and technology and development cooperation, the office said.

South Korea and Colombia are in the final stages of talks to forge a free trade agreement, and the upcoming trip by Lee is expected to provide the negotiations with important momentum, the office said.

Colombia was the only nation in Central and South America to send troops to help South Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War. During the visit, Lee plans to lay a wreath at a war memorial and hold a meeting with veterans and their families to thank them for their contributions to South Korea's defense.

Lee will be the first South Korean president to visit Colombia. This year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.


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Source: Yonhap News (June 17, 2012)

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