S. Korea likely to receive 1 mln doses of mRNA vaccines from Britain in swap deal

NEW YORK-- South Korea is expected to receive one million doses of vaccines, produced either by Pfizer or Moderna, from Britain in stages starting this weekend, as leaders of the two countries had discussions on the matter during their summit talks here, according to a Cheong Wa Dae official.

"It is highly likely that one million doses of mRNA vaccines will be supplied in batches from Sept. 25," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity without elaborating.

On Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in had summit talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in New York on the sidelines of an annual U.N. General Assembly session.

Johnson said he was glad that the two sides plan to exchange vaccines and Moon expressed hope that it will serve as a chance to further solidify friendly bilateral ties, Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Park Kyung-mee said in a press briefing earlier.

She stopped short of clarifying whether South Korea and Britain will sign a formal vaccine swap deal.

The British government said in a separate press release that, "The leaders welcomed the progress in the global fight against coronavirus since they last met in June and on setting up a vaccine swap between the UK and South Korea to enable them to have earlier access to crucial vaccines."

Moon and Johnson had their previous face-to-face summit in June, when Moon visited the British county of Cornwall for a Group of Seven (G-7) summit.

Regarding a recent visit by the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and its fleet to South Korea, meanwhile, Moon said it has contributed to the strengthening of defense cooperation between the two sides, Park added.

The two also talked about a new trilateral security partnership among Australia, Britain and the United States, called AUKUS.

Johnson assured Moon that it will not trigger any problem with regard to regional security, and Moon hoped for its contribution to peace and prosperity, Park said.

Moon briefed Johnson on Seoul's push for the denuclearization of Korea and establishment of peace.

He requested support from Britain, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, so that the Korea peace process can make substantive progress.

The prime minister reaffirmed Britain's backing for the South Korean government's peace drive and agreed to cooperate in efforts to engage North Korea diplomatically, according to Moon's office.

The leaders agreed on closer partnerships between their nations in response to climate change.

Britain is scheduled to host the "COP 26" U.N. climate action summit in November, and South Korea hopes to host the "COP 28" session in 2023. Johnson asked Moon to attend the COP 26 event slated for Nov. 1-2.

The two sides also had discussions on bilateral relations, including trade.

They expected two-way trade and investment to further expand going forward, with their free trade agreement (FTA) in smooth implementation since it took effect in January following Brexit, Cheong Wa Dae said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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