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(LEAD) Moon, Egyptian leader to make joint efforts for K-9 howitzer deal

All News 21:08 January 20, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with Moon's remarks on weapons in first 5 paras; CHANGES headline, new photo; CHANGES headline)
By Kim Deok-hyun

CAIRO, Jan. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday he will make joint efforts with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for the conclusion of a deal to sell Seoul's K-9 self-propelled howitzers to the African state.

Moon made the remarks during a joint announcement of the outcome of his talks with the Egyptian president, raising hopes for another K-9 howitzer export deal, following a 1.9-trillion won contract signed during Moon's visit to Australia last month.

The two leaders agreed that a deal on K-9 howitzers is "an achievement of defense cooperation based on mutual trust between the two nations and K9 self-propelled artillery greatly contributes to enhancing the Egyptian military's power," Moon said.

Moon said he and the Egyptian president agreed to "work together to reach a final conclusion" of the ongoing negotiations on K-9 howitzers.

If the deal is struck, it would mark the first export of the K-9 howitzers to the Middle Eastern and African regions. South Korea has exported the K-9 howitzers to Turkey, Poland, India, Norway, Finland, Estonia and Australia.

President Moon Jae-in (L) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi pose for the camera before holding summit talks on Jan. 20, 2022. (Yonhap)

During the summit, the two leaders also agreed to conduct a joint feasibility study on a bilateral free trade agreement, taking the first step toward a deal as Seoul and Cairo seek to deepen economic cooperation.

An FTA with Egypt, if realized, would mark South Korea's first free trade pact with an African country.

Bilateral trade between Korea and Egypt has been on the rise in recent years and stood at US$2.3 billion last year. South Korea's accumulated investment into Egypt reached $730 million at the end of last year.

Moon and the Egyptian president also signed a memorandum of understanding that calls for Seoul to provide a soft loan worth $1 billion to Egypt over the next five years.

The loan is expected to fund construction and infrastructure projects in Egypt, including upgrading railway networks and building desalination plants, according to Korean officials.

Besides, the two leaders agreed to expand the scope of existing cooperation in space, defense, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, according to the statement.

Moon also asked Egypt to support South Korea's bid to host the World Expo in the nation's southeastern port city of Busan in 2030.

Moon's visit to Cairo marked the first trip by a South Korean president to the African nation in 16 years.

President Moon Jae-in (L) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi hold summit talks on Jan. 20, 2022. (Yonhap)

Later in the day, Moon will attend a business forum where companies of the two nations plan to discuss how to strengthen cooperation in electric cars, information technology and transportation.

Egypt is the final leg of Moon's three-nation trip to the Middle East that took him to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Moon told an Arabic newspaper that South Korea and Egypt could enjoy mutual benefits if they sign a free trade deal.

"Egypt is expanding opportunities for Korea to enter the African market, while Korea is expanding opportunities for Egypt to enter the Asian market," Moon said in the interview, which was published earlier in the day.

kdh@yna.co.kr
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