South Korean President visits United Arab Emirates, showing deep ties | Economic news

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By ISABEL DEBRE, Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — On a trip to the United Arab Emirates, South Korea’s president reportedly reached a preliminary multibillion-dollar deal on Sunday to sell Seoul’s surface-to-air missiles to Abu Dhabi and pledged to deepen cooperation with the Gulf Arab Federation.

After South Korean President Moon Jae-in met Emirati Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in Dubai, the countries signed a memorandum of understanding for the United Arab Emirates to purchase a South Korean system. Korean medium-range missile defense system valued at some $3.5 billion, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

There were no further details of the deal announced during the visit and no immediate comment from the UAE. But during the week-long air show in Dubai last November, the Emirati Ministry of Defense tweeted that it planned to acquire South Korea’s M-SAM, an advanced air defense system designed to intercept missiles at altitudes below 40 kilometers (25 miles), saying it “would be a qualitative complement to national air defense capabilities.”

Sheikh Mohammed posted photos from the meeting and said the UAE was seeking “a comprehensive strategic economic partnership” with South Korea, one of the world’s top crude importers and financiers of energy projects.

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The nations have stepped up their defense cooperation over the past decade, with elite South Korean special forces even traveling to the United Arab Emirates to train Emirati troops in an unprecedented multi-year deployment to the Asian country. .

Meanwhile, the UAE has taken in hundreds of North Korean workers in recent years, who provide a key source of income for Pyongyang. But under pressure to enforce US sanctions over North Korea’s nuclear program, Abu Dhabi recently decided to stifle the network and stop renewing North Korean work visas.

Since Expo 2020 Dubai, where South Korea has a sprawling pavilion to showcase the country’s high-tech and cultural achievements, President Moon has praised the world expo and pledged that countries “will transcend generations and national borders to rebuild together and move forward together”.

President Moon landed in the regional financial hub of Dubai on Saturday and was greeted by UAE Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei. Oil and gas-dependent South Korea imports fossil fuels from the Persian Gulf, including oil-rich Abu Dhabi, to fuel its energy-intensive economy, dominated by manufacturing industries ranging from automobiles to petrochemicals.

The United Arab Emirates accounts for 8% of Seoul’s oil imports, according to 2019 data from the US Energy Information Administration.

Not only does Seoul buy Emirati oil, but South Korean companies have participated in the development of Emirati oil fields to boost the Asian country’s self-sufficiency and, significantly, have built the Barakah nuclear power plant in the UAE – the first in the Arabian Peninsula.

The group of four reactors at Barakah in the far western desert of Abu Dhabi, which marked the Korea Electric Power Corporation’s first international contract, are gradually being commissioned. As the United Arab Emirates seeks to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and diversify away from oil, it plans to get a quarter of its electricity from $20 billion reactors.

During the South Korean trade minister’s trip to the United Arab Emirates late last year, the countries also began negotiations on a new bilateral trade deal, including agreements to develop clean energy sources. On Monday, Moon met with an Emirati business delegation over clean-burning hydrogen, his press office said.

Abu Dhabi’s national oil company has focused on hydrogen in recent months, building facilities to produce large volumes of fuel and shipping what is known as blue ammonia to Japan.

“Carbon neutrality is obviously a difficult process, but if the two nations promote the hydrogen industry through solidarity and cooperation, they will have new opportunities,” Yonhap News Agency quoted Moon as saying. a business forum in Dubai, adding that Seoul had helped the UAE. develop a hydrogen-powered public transport system.

Another South Korean export will take center stage later on Sunday at the Expo, as star K-pop groups including Psy of the hit song “Gangnam Style” perform catchy tunes and moves dynamic dance halls for the frenetic fans who braved the rare desert rains to line up from the early hours of the morning.

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