South Korea's Yoon Suk Yeol meets President Sheikh Mohamed in Abu Dhabi during state visit

Leaders attend ceremony at Qasr Al Watan

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South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol was welcomed to Abu Dhabi by President Sheikh Mohamed as he embarked on a four-day visit.

He was accompanied by first lady Kim Keon-hee, and together they attended an official reception ceremony at Qasr Al Watan on Sunday.

The occasion included a performance of the South Korean national anthem, followed by 21-artillery rounds fired, and guards of honour lining up to salute the distinguished guest.

"I was pleased to welcome President Yoon Suk Yeol to the UAE," Sheikh Mohamed said.

"We had fruitful discussions and witnessed the signing of several agreements and MOUs.

"Our Special Strategic Partnership with the Republic of Korea will continue to strengthen and serve our common interests and goals."

Mr Yoon was greeted on Saturday at the Presidential Airport by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Khaldoon Mubarak, chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority and member of the Executive Council, and Abdullah Al Nuaimi, UAE ambassador to the Republic of Korea.

Emirati fighter jets accompanied the plane carrying the South Korean president as it entered the UAE's airspace to greet the country's guest.

The visit formally began on Sunday, state news agency Wam said.

Mr Yoon will hold talks with President Sheikh Mohamed and is here for Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, which runs from January 14 to 19.

Sheikh Mohamed and Mr Yoon will explore ways to bolster co-operation in line with a strategic partnership in place between their nations.

The South Korean leader will meet a number of state officials and visit development projects during the trip, Wam said.

Discussions will centre on nuclear energy, climate change, health, the space sector, smart agriculture and culture.

“Choosing the UAE as the first foreign visit [of 2023] reflects President Yoon's determination to enhance the strategic partnership with the UAE in energy, investment, defence and nuclear energy,” said Kim Sung Han, South Korea's National Security Adviser, in comments carried by Wam.

The UAE and South Korea are working to strengthen ties. In December, Sheikh Mohamed met Kim Dae Ki, a special envoy of the South Korean President, at Qasr Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi.

Mr Kim delivered a written message from Mr Yoon, which spoke of the friendship between the nations, and the co-operation and opportunities to develop them further within the framework of the two countries' partnership.

During the meeting, both sides stressed the importance of expanding current co-operation and partnership between the UAE and South Korea, especially in economy, trade, investment, energy in its various traditional and renewable sectors, advanced technology and other fields that relate to economic diversification plans and building a knowledge-based economy that have been adopted by both countries.

The UAE and South Korea forged diplomatic ties in 1980, with relations flourishing in the decades since.

South Korea played a leading role in the construction of the UAE's Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, the first such facility of its kind in the Arab world.

The nations have also worked in partnership in the space sector, pooling their expertise to send satellites up.

“President Yoon Suk Yeol’s state visit from January 14 to 17 brings new expectations and hope,” Yoo Jeh Seung, South Korean ambassador to the UAE, told The National this week.

“Our two countries have, up to this point, been considered brotherly nations with a special strategic partnership, but now, given the significance of this visit, we see an opportunity to take off for a greater future.”

Updated: January 15, 2023, 12:19 PM