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(3rd LD) S. Korea, UAE agree to strengthen ties

All News 17:40 January 09, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with reports of outcome of the meeting between President Moon and the UAE envoy, more information in last 7 paras; ADDS additional photo)

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the United Arab Emirates agreed Tuesday to further enhance their bilateral relationship to upgrade their diplomatic ties into a comprehensive strategic relationship, a Seoul official said.

The agreement came in a meeting between Im Jong-seok, Seoul's presidential chief of staff, and Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi.

"The United Arab Emirates is the only country in the Middle East, with which we have a strategic partnership, and we have agreed to develop the relationship into a more comprehensive strategic partnership," Im said at a joint press event that followed his lunch meeting with Al Mubarak in Seoul.

The UAE official arrived here Monday as a special envoy of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

"The United Arab Emirates and Korea have a very special, long-term historic relationship," he told reporters.

"It is a relationship we care very much about and it's a relationship we are working together always to strengthen and to build more ties in more sectors. We have a very unique relationship that goes into many areas and many sectors, that covers all aspects of the government, private and public sectors," he added.

South Korean Presidential Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok (R) and Khaldoon Al Mubarak, a special envoy of the United Arab Emirates, hold a joint press event following their bilateral talks in Seoul on Jan. 9, 2018. (Yonhap)

An official from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae earlier said Al Mubarak was returning a trip by Im on Dec. 10 to Abu Dhabi where he paid a visit to the Crown Prince.

However, his trip also came amid suspicions of soured relations between the two countries.

Cheong Wa Dae earlier dismissed such suspicions raised by opposition parties, insisting Im's trip to the UAE was only aimed at further improving the bilateral ties and visiting South Korean forces stationed in the Middle Eastern country.

Al Mubarak said the relationship between South Korea and his country remained strong.

"The people of the United Arab Emirates and the people of Korea share a lot in common and have a strong relationship together and that is reflected in the strength of the relationship we have between the United Arab Emirates government and the Korean government," he said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) shakes hands with Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi and special envoy of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, before the start of their meeting at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Jan. 9, 2018. (Yonhap)

The UAE official expressed hope that the countries will further enhance their bilateral ties in the energy and electronics sectors, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Soo-hyun.

While later making a courtesy call on South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Al Mubarak again confirmed the strong relationship between the two countries.

"I must say, the fact that you, Mr. President, have made time to meet me shows how close and strong the bond between the two countries is," he said, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.

Al Mubarak also relayed a special message from the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, along with his invitation for the South Korean leader to visit the Middle Eastern country.

"Crown Prince Mohammed sincerely wishes for you, Mr. President, to visit the UAE, and is beginning to make all necessary preparations," he told the South Korean president.

President Moon praised Crown Prince Mohammed and Al Mubarak for playing a great role in developing the relationship between the two countries.

"I hope we will work together to develop our countries' relationship into one of true brother nations, just as the name of the Akh unit means," he said, referring to the South Korean military unit that has been stationed in the UAE since 2011.


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