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#Hot Issues of the Week l 2023-01-22
President Yoon Suk Yeol returned home Saturday from an eight-day trip to the United Arab Emirates and Switzerland, his first overseas trip of the year. He made a state visit to the UAE from January 14 to the 17 before attending the World Economic Forum in the Swiss alpine city of Davos.
President Yoon Suk Yeol and his United Arab Emirates counterpart, Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan held a summit in Abu Dhabi on Sunday that produced a multi-billion dollar investment pledge by the Middle East country.
After arriving in the country on Saturday on the first state visit by a South Korean head of state since the two nations forged diplomatic ties in 1980, President Yoon met with Sheik Mohammed at the presidential palace of Qasr Al Watan on Sunday to discuss advancing their “special strategic partnership" to the highest level.
During the session, the UAE leader pledged to invest 30 billion dollars in South Korean industries, including nuclear power and the defense industry as well as the hydrogen and solar power sectors.
With representatives from some 100 South Korean conglomerates as well as small-and-mid-sized firms accompanying Yoon, 13 memoranda of understanding were signed in line with the sheik’s pledge, with scores more expected to be signed on Monday.
The preliminary agreements included one between the Korea Development Bank and Abu Dhabi’s second-biggest state fund, the Mubadala Investment Company, on joint investment in promising South Korean companies, as well as a deal to partner on nuclear power facility construction projects in foreign markets.
In announcing the pledge, the UAE leader said that the major investment decision was made with confidence in the country’s ability to keep its promises under all circumstances.
President Yoon, whose invitation to South Korea at a convenient time was accepted by Sheik Mohammed, said in a social media post that he will never forget the trust put in South Korea by the UAE.
Also via social media, he paid tribute to the South Korean soldiers serving in a joint training unit stationed in the country, praising their courage and passion as the power that safeguards South Korea, following Sunday's visit to the Akh unit, tasked with training the host country’s troops and protecting South Korean residents in the event of a contingency.
While meeting the unit, named after the Arabic word for “brother,” the president called the UAE a brother country and stressed that its national security and South Korea’s are one and the same.
He drew a comparison to the security situation of the UAE, with what he believes is the biggest enemy and threat in nearby Iran, and that of South Korea’s shared border with North Korea.
After wrapping up the UAE leg of his tour, President Yoon will depart for Switzerland on Tuesday to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos.
While in Switzerland, the president called for global cooperation and solidarity to tackle global supply chain disruptions and other key concerns the world is facing.
In the wake of global supply shocks, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol says that shoring up international supply chains is the most urgent task facing the world today.
In his speech at this year's World Economic Forum on Thursday, Yoon called for joint action, pledging that South Korea will be a key partner in that pursuit.
[President Yoon Suk Yeol (Korean-English)]
"By forging robust solidarity among nations, we must establish a resilient supply chain and pursue the coexistence of citizens worldwide. The Republic of Korea, which boasts the world’s top-notch production technologies and manufacturing capabilities in semiconductor, rechargeable batteries, steelmaking, and biotechnology, will be a key partner in the global supply chain."
Over the last few years, supply shocks took place in industrial sectors, including vaccines, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors as well as food and energy.
Noting that the war in Ukraine has worsened disruptions in supply chains, Yoon said that strengthening their resilience should also be achieved in the spirit of freedom.
During his 15-minute speech, Yoon also suggested that nuclear power and clean hydrogen are key means to fight climate change.
[President Yoon Suk Yeol (Korean-English)]
"The Republic of Korea has world-class technological prowess in nuclear power generation as well as outstanding nuclear power plant construction and operation capabilities and is willing to work with nations that need to tap into nuclear power technology to achieve their carbon neutrality goals."
Before attending this year's Davos Forum, President Yoon made a state visit to the United Arab Arab Emirates, where he toured the South Korean-built Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant and highlighted his country's potential for more such energy projects overseas.
Wrapping up his eight-day overseas engagement, President Yoon is returning home Saturday morning.