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S.Korea confident Spain to emerge from crisis

South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-Sik said Friday he is confident Spain will recover from its economic crisis, during talks with his Spanish counterpart, the Spanish government said.

Kim told Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero “he was convinced that with the reforms which Spain is putting in place, Spain will overcome the crisis and emerge from it with a stronger and more solid economy,” the government said in a statement.

“In this way Kim Hwang-Sik reiterated the confidence of his country in the Spanish economy and the eurozone,” it added.

South Korea’s vote of confidence comes a day after Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang wrapped up a three-day visit to Spain where he vowed to buy more of Spain’s government debt in a sign of faith in the Spanish economy.

“We believe Spain, with its government and people working together, will surely overcome current economic and fiscal difficulties,” Li reportedly told Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado after his arrival on Tuesday.

During their talks on Friday, Zapatero said Spain’s economic ties with South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, should be strengthened “with greater commercial exchanges until there is a balance in the trade balance,” the statement said.

Spanish exports to South Korea totaled $572 million (EUR442 million) in 2009 while its imports from the Asian country reached 1.82 billion dollars that year, according to Spanish government figures.

Spain’s foreign direct investment in South Korea in 2009 was just EUR36 million. South Korea invested EUR50 million in Spain that year.

Zapatero’s government has made boosting trade with fast-growing Asia one of the planks of its strategy for reviving the Spanish economy, which plunged into recession during the second-half of 2008 as the global financial meltdown compounded the collapse of the once-booming property market.

The Spanish economy, the European Union’s fifth largest, emerged with tepid growth of just 0.1 percent in the first quarter and 0.2 percent in the second, but then stalled with zero percent growth in the third.

Zaparero has slashed spending and raised taxes to rein in a ballooning public deficit and ease market fears that Spain will need an EU bailout like the ones granted Ireland and Greece last year.