President of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Lee Myung-bak and his European counterparts have called for efforts to conclude negotiations for a free trade deal between the RoK and the European Union (EU) at an early date and for cooperation on global and regional issues.

"The leaders agreed the future-oriented partnership between the sides will not only help improve the bilateral relationship between the RoK and the EU, but will also contribute to the development and peace of their regions and the international community," Yonhap news agency reported, citing the leaders said in a joint statement released at the end of their summit in Seoul on May 23.

The RoK-EU summit was attended by RoK President Lee, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic who is serving in the EU's rotating presidency.

In March, the two sides settled a "provisional" agreement on bilateral free trade, leaving the thorniest issues, a duty drawback and rules of origin, to their trade ministers.

The EU stood as the RoK's second-largest trading partner after China last year, with two-way trade reaching over 90 billion USD.

If the agreement is finalized, the RoK's exports are expected to increase by 11 billion USD and gross domestic product by 3.08 percent, according to a forecast by the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy./.