Just a few hours after returning from China Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan met with his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner in Seoul on Friday afternoon to discuss ways to strengthen ties between their two countries.
One of the major issues of mutual concern was the return of ancient Korean texts taken by the French in the late 19th century.
The French navy looted 297 books out of roughly 1-thousand preserved in a royal archive called Oegyujanggak when it invaded Ganghwa Island during the Joseon Dynasty.
France returned one of the books on a permanent loan basis in 1993.
And recently there have been more positive gestures from Paris regarding the remaining books.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s special envoy to North Korea Jack Lang told reporters in Paris on Wednesday that the two countries will begin talks on the return of the remaining books during the French foreign minister’s visit to Seoul this week.
Korea has been seeking to obtain the royal books through a permanent loan in which the French government would maintain ownership while the Korean government would keep the them on a long-term, renewable contract.
Apart from the issue of the ancient texts the two foreign ministers discussed ways to bolster economic relations prior to the official approval of the Free Trade Agreement between Korea and the European Union.
Ministers Yu and Kouchner also addressed ways to collaborate for the G-20 summit to be held in Seoul in November with France having been tapped as the chair of the forum next year.
Yang Ji-woo, Arirang News.
MAR 19, 2010
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