(ATTN: ADDS photo)
TURKMENBASHI, Turkmenistan, April 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for continued cooperation between his country and Turkmenistan on Thursday during a visit to the site of a joint project to build the Central Asian country's first petrochemical plant.
He called it a symbol of friendship and cooperation between the two sides.
"I believe the Kiyanly plant project is only the start of economic cooperation between the two countries. The possibility that lies ahead is much greater and limitless," Moon said, meeting with 100 South Korean workers in Kiyanly.
The petrochemical plant in the city, 500 kilometers west of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, was built by a global consortium led by South Korea's Hyundai Engineering Co. Hyundai and about a dozen other South Korean firms own a 71.2 percent stake in the US$30 billion construction project, according to Moon's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
His trip to the plant came one day after he and his Turkmen counterpart, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, agreed to further expand bilateral cooperation in the energy plant sector in their summit in Ashgabat.
President Berdimuhamedow accompanied the South Korean leader on his trip to Kiyanly despite having already visited the city in October to celebrate the construction of his country's first petrochemical plant.
"The potential of Turkmenistan is not only in natural resources. Now the country is actively pursuing a value-added petrochemical industry and industrial diversification. Furthermore, it is transforming itself into a logistics hub in Eurasia," Moon said.
He vowed support for Turkmenistan's development efforts and South Korean companies working with the Central Asian nation.
"Our government too will not withhold anything we have to make sure your efforts will lead to well deserved progress," he added. "The president will be the first to actively support our companies working overseas."
Moon also congratulated the workers for completing their project without a single accident, which he noted translated into 70 million man-hours without a mishap.
"This means there had not been a single accident for 1,400 straight days if we say 5,000 workers worked 10 hours each every day," he said. "It is a globally unprecedented record set at such a large scale construction site."
The president also commended the South Korean workers and their firms for setting up an on-site training center that helped train 230 local welders and electricians.
"It has become an exemplary case of joint development that helps both our companies and local jobs," he said.
"The sweat you shed here with the people of Turkmenistan will be recorded in history as a great achievement of friendship and joint prosperity between the two countries," added Moon.
Moon's trip to the Kiyanly plant concluded his three-day state visit to Turkmenistan that began Tuesday.
He will later head for Uzbekistan, the second stop of a three-nation tour that will also take him to Kazakhstan.