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According to Yonhap News,
(ROME=Yonhap News)South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her Italian counterpart agreed Friday to strengthen bilateral economic partnership as they called for denuclearization of North Korea.
The agreement was reached during a summit between Park and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday, the last day of Park's visit to Italy that culminated in her debut at a biennial summit of Asian and European leaders, known as the ASEM, in Milan.
South Korea and Italy also signed a series of memorandums of understanding to boost cooperation in a wide-range of issues, including fashion, design as well as information technology.
The two sides also agreed to set up a high-level cooperation committee to help implement such memorandums.
Park and Renzi also agreed to bolster relations between South Korea and the European Union on the occasion of Italy's assumption of the EU's rotating presidency.
"Park's visit to Italy will serve as a good opportunity to greatly enhance friendly cooperative ties between South Korea and Italy," Park's office said.
The two leaders also called for expansion of trade and investment between the two countries. Italy is South Korea's 29th largest trading partner with two-way trade amounting to US$8.5 billion in 2013.
Also Friday, Park met with Pope Francis and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in Rome.
Park said she hopes to see the pope in a unified Korean Peninsula, according to Park's office.
Francis called for a prayer for a peaceful unification of the divided Korean Peninsula and peace in Northeast Asia, her office said.
The 30-minute meeting came just two months after Francis visited South Korea on the first papal trip to the Asian country in a quarter century.
The meeting also came hours after Park pressed North Korea to sincerely come forward for talks with South Korea during a final session of the Asia-Europe Meeting, known as ASEM, in Milan.
The two Koreas agreed to hold high-level talks between late October and early November during a recent surprise visit to South Korea by a high-powered North Korean delegation.
The North has not responded to Seoul's offer, though it has asked the South to set a date for the talks.
The planned talks raised hopes for a thaw in inter-Korean relations, but the hopes were quickly dampened by two separate exchanges of fire between the two sides near their tense western sea border and heavily fortified land border.
Park and Renzi also shared the view that denuclearization of North Korea is a must to bring peace and stability on the divided Korean Peninsula, according to Park's office.
Still, North Korea has repeatedly vowed to develop its economy and nuclear arsenal in tandem, viewing its nuclear programs as a powerful deterrent against what it claims is Washington's hostile policy toward it.
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Source: Yonhap News (October. 17, 2014)