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S. Korean prime minister calls for improved ties with Uzbekistan

South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn called for efforts to boost economic ties and cooperation with Uzbekistan on Saturday, also urging additional efforts to jointly develop new overseas markets.
  
The call came at a ceremony marking the construction of a chemical plant in Ustyurt, Uzbekistan, under a joint development project called "Surgil."
  
"The Surgil gas plant is a milestone of cooperation between South Korea and Uzbekistan, and the success of the Surgil project was possible only because of such close cooperation between the two countries," Hwang said at the ceremony.

Under the US$3.9 billion project signed in 2006, the two countries will also build a 110-kilometer pipeline to deliver natural gas from a jointly developed mine in Surgil to the chemical plant in Ustyurt.
  
The gas mine in Surgil began commercial output late last year, marking the completion of the first phase in the three-phase joint development project.
  
The third phase of the Surgil project involves production of chemical products at the Ustyurt plant, which will be sold in Uzbekistan and its neighboring states, as well as China.
  
The Seoul government earlier said the joint project will annually generate up to US$1 billion in sales and $200 million in profit.
  
A South Korean consortium, led by the state-run Korea Gas, has a 50 percent stake in the joint project, with the other half owned by Uzbekistan's national gas firm UNG.
  
"The project is a new model of cooperation that involves the joint development and production of high value-added products, instead of just selling natural resources," the South Korean prime minister said. "I hope the success of the Surgil project will serve as the start of joint development and prosperity for the two countries." (Yonhap)

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