S. Korea, Bolivia Ink Lithium MOU

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"Morales searched for country that shares environmental-preservation views."

The presidents of Bolivia and South Korea Thursday agreed to a partnership on the development of lithium mines and other resources.

In a press conference with the Korean news media, Bolivian President Evo Morales said he had long searched for a nation who shares his views about development models that do not harm the environment.

"Among the many countries wanting to discuss lithium deals with us, we were searching for a country that shares our belief in preserving the environment," Morales said, "I was very much impressed by South Korea's efforts to use clean technology. . ."

During his presidential visit to Korea, Morales will tour the research center and plants of LG Chem, one of the world's largest producers of lithium-ion batteries, Korea's Foreign Ministry officials said.

"President Lee [Myung-bak] expressed appreciation for President Morales' interest and support for participation by Korean businesses in the development of lithium mines in Bolivia and research in the country's industrialization," said Cheong Wa Dae (Korea's equivalent of the White House in the United States).

The two presidents noted that the Memorandum of Understanding on the Research and Development for the Industrialization of Evaporation Resources in Uyani Salt Flats, signed during Morales' visit, laid a foundation for "full-fledged collaboration in the development of lithium mines in Southern Bolivia."

Morales also asked Lee to expand the South Korean government's development cooperation projects for Bolivia's sustainable economic and social progress. "President Lee said that the South Korean government would positively examine Bolivia's inclusion into its Knowledge Sharing Program in 2011," the Cheong Wa Dae said.

The Bolivian president said he would also work on reopening the Bolivian embassy in Seoul at the earliest possible date. Bolivia shut down its embassy in 2000 due to budget concerns.

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