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S. Korea, Finland sign nuclear cooperation pact

South Korea and Finland officially signed a deal on Wednesday to expand cooperation in the nuclear energy field and to ensure its peaceful use, Seoul officials said.

The signing ceremony, which followed their preliminary deal in July, took place in the Finnish capital of Helsinki, with South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won and his Finnish counterpart, Jyrki Katainen, attending.

The nuclear energy accord with Finland will become South Korea's 28th, following similar agreements with the United States, Canada, Australia and other nations.

"The deal will lead to an expanded cooperation between the two countries not only in terms of the operation of nuclear power plants but in safety, intelligence and personnel exchanges," the Prime Minister's Secretariat said in a statement.

Finland, which is known as technologically advanced in terms of nuclear waste disposal and nuclear safety, currently has four nuclear power plants in operation, with one under construction and two more planned for the future. South Korea's state-run Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power is currently bidding for a contract to build a sixth reactor in the Nordic country.

"The pact is expected to pave the way for South Korean businesses to gain easier access to the Finnish atomic power industries," an official of the Secretariat said.

Prior to the signing ceremony, Chung held bilateral talks with Katainen and discussed a wide range of issues of mutual concern, including innovative economic development strategies, and the international issues of climate change and sustainable growth, the office said.

Chung arrived in Finland on Tuesday after wrapping up his visit to Denmark. He is on an eight-day trip to the two European countries aimed at strengthening cooperation with them in developing strategies concerning environment friendly growth and energy issues, among others.

Following his energy diplomacy move, he plans to meet with the Finnish parliamentary floor leader and look around the Otaniemi Technology Hub, the largest innovation and business hub in Northern Europe.

Leaving the Nordic country for home on Friday, Chung is scheduled to visit Moscow to meet South Korean businessmen there, his office said.

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