TASHKENT, April 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in's visit to Uzbekistan may have been a greater success than earlier anticipated, an official from his office Cheong Wa Dae said Saturday, noting the countries may be set for new cooperation projects worth nearly US$12 billion in total.
The assessment came one day after Moon and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev agreed to upgrade the countries' relationship to a special strategic partnership in a summit held here.
The South Korean president arrived here Thursday on a four-day state visit.
"On various occasions, including the summit and the South Korea-Uzbekistan business forum, President Mirziyoyev said his country 'thinks of South Korea as the first country with which it wants to have economic cooperation,'" Moon's economic adviser Joo Hyung-chul told reporters.
The Uzbek president then proposed launching various new projects in the industrial plant, power plant, hospital, transportation, infrastructure and education sectors that are worth $12 billion, he added.
Trade between the two countries will also increase in the future, the Cheong Wa Dae official said, noting the countries have signed a memorandum of understanding on a joint study for a free trade agreement.
In 2018, bilateral trade between the two countries came to $2.1 billion.
"With Uzbekistan becoming one of only four countries to have formed a special strategic partnership with our country out of 190 countries that have diplomatic relations with our country, projects in various areas are expected to see a further boost," Joo said.
Noting Moon is currently on a three-nation tour to Central Asia, the official insisted the trip will also enhance and promote the country's New Northern Policy that seeks to boost its economic and diplomatic ties with countries in the North and Eurasia, including China and Russia.
The South Korean president will head to Uzbekistan's ancient city of Samarkand later in the day.
He will wrap up his four-day visit here Sunday and head for Kazakhstan, the third and last stop on his three-nation tour that earlier took him to Turkmenistan.
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