S. Korean president heads home after summit with crown prince

DUBAI, South Korean President Moon Jae-in headed home Tuesday, ending his four-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a summit with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and other leaders, including the ruler of Dubai.

His departure came shortly after his talks with the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who also serves as prime minister of the UAE.

Moon's official visit, the first of its kind to the UAE, largely sought to enhance his country's relationship with the Middle Eastern country, as well as economic and defense cooperation.

On Sunday, the South Korean leader and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan agreed to upgrade the countries' ties to a "special strategic partnership," making UAE the first country in the Middle East to do so.

The countries established diplomatic ties in 1980. They upgraded their bilateral relationship to a strategic partnership in 2009, when South Korea won a US$19 billion deal to build UAE's first nuclear power plant in Barakah.

Moon and the UAE leader traveled together to Barakah on Monday to celebrate the recent completion of the first of the four reactors being built there.

The crown prince has told Moon to expect as much as $25 billion in additional projects, Moon's office Cheong Wa Dae said.

"The relationship between our two countries is already very strong and special," he was quoted as saying in his summit with Moon. "However, I hope the two countries will not be satisfied and will endlessly study ways to further develop their relationship."

In an apparent exchange, South Korea agreed to expand its defense cooperation with the UAE.

"Regarding their military and defense industry cooperation, President Moon said South Korea will work together with the UAE ultimately to jointly develop and produce (defense systems) and jointly advance to a third country," Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, said earlier.

Moon said the two countries will become true brothers, as the name of the South Korean military unit stationed here, Akh, means.

His departure also wrapped up his two-nation trip that earlier took him to Vietnam on a three-day state visit that included a bilateral summit with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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