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S. Korean President Meets Sheikh Dhiyab bin Zayed Al Nahyan


Abu Dhabi (WAM) — Sheikh Dhiyab bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), met here on May 13 at the Emirates Palace Hotel South Korean President, Roh Moo-hyun, who is currently on a state visit to the UAE.

During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations between the UAE and South Korea in the areas of economy, investment and privatisation. They also discussed ways to boost those relations and to open new avenues of cooperation in the future.

Sheikh Dhiyab said the UAE, under the wise leadership of H.H.Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, remains committed to boosting its ties with the Republic of Korea with whom the UAE has good relations of friendship and trade for a long time.

Sheikh Dhiyab reiterated the need for the UAE to benefit from the South Korean expertise and technology in projects being implemented by the ADWEA.

He commended Korean firms operating in the UAE for the significant role they play in the UAE's development drive. He welcomed the boosting of the existing ties between the two countries for their mutual interest.

Sheikh Dhiyab briefed the Korean President on the privatisation programmes embarked upon by the ADWEA and the areas of investment.

The Korean President expressed great satisfaction on the excellent relations between the two countries and commended the UAE for achieving comprehensive development, wishing the country more progress and prosperity.

President Moo-hyun also briefed his host about investment opportunities and incentives in South Korea in view of the investor-friendly laws which protects investors and capitals. He reiterated his country's readiness to provide UAE with expertise and its technological requirements in various sectors.

Present at the meeting were a number of officials from the UAE and Korean sides.

Sheikh Dhiyab had earlier in the morning of today held talks with the Korean Minister of Construction and Transport, Choo Byung-jik, who is among the members of the delegation accompanying the Korean President.

During the meeting, they discussed bilateral ties between the two countries and ways to boost them in the areas of economy, investment and privatisation.

S. Korean President Hails Ties with UAE

ABU DHABI (WAM) — President Roh Moo-Hyun of South Korea has hailed as good his country's relations with United Arab Emirates, saying it will get even better in future.

In an interview with WAM on the eve of his visit to Abu Dhabi on May 12, the first ever by a Korean president to this Arab Gulf country, Mr. Roh said the importance of the UAE as a gateway to the Middle East has gained much recognition, anticipation for investment and is on the rise.

He said, while in UAE, he would hold talks with President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the Middle East, political and economic issues and the current state of affairs in the Korean Peninsula as well as matters of common interest and ways to enhance bilateral cooperation.

He said he was also scheduled to meet with General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and senior officials in energy, natural resources and information technology sectors.

"An agreement on cooperation in economy, trade and technology as well as MOUs on energy and natural resources, construction and IT, which are to be signed by the two governments during the visit, will provide the solid foundation for strengthening bilateral cooperation," revealed President Moo-hyun.

The UAE is South Korea's second largest oil supplier and a major trading partner in the Middle East, with the trade volume between the two countries reaching US$12.7 billion last year.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q1: Your Excellency, what are the objectives of your official visit to the UAE?

A1: It is my great pleasure to be the first Korean President to visit the UAE. I fully anticipate that I will be able to witness firsthand the rapid development of the UAE under the leadership of President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan combined with the potential of its people.

On the occasion of this visit, I hope Korea and the UAE can further solidify the traditional bilateral relations of friendship and cooperation and proceed to build future-oriented economic partnership of a new dimension.

Korea and the UAE are both located at points of strategic importance in Northeast Asia and the Middle East and are emerging as economic hubs in each region respectively. In light of this, the strengthening of bilateral cooperation is expected to bring about a tremendous synergy effect as Korea and the UAE will be offered a foothold for exploring new markets.

Q2: How do you assess the current state of political and economic relations between South Korea and the UAE, and how can these be further developed?

A2: They have been good so far and will get even better in future. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries in 1980, the UAE has been a well-established friendly nation to Korea. The bilateral relationship has made stable progress in various aspects including economic and political arenas.

In particular, the two visits to the UAE by the Korean Prime Ministers in 2001 and 2005 and the UAE Deputy Premier Hamdan's visit to Korea in 2004 have reaffirmed the importance of bilateral ties.

To Korea, the UAE is the second largest oil supplier and an important trading partner in the Middle East. The trade volume between the two countries has steadily increased, reaching US$12.7 billion last year.

Bilateral economic cooperation is expanding beyond long-established areas of energy and natural resources into plant construction, investment, information technology and defense industries. I find this trend highly desirable and hope that the cooperation in energy and natural resources will go beyond merely increasing trade volume and develop further into technology sharing and joint development of natural resources.

Especially, I believe Korea and the UAE will gain huge mutual benefit if the two countries would combine their technology, capital and experience and make joint investment or enter jointly the markets of third countries.

Many economic leaders of Korea are traveling with me on this visit. I expect this will serve as a good opportunity to bolster economic cooperation in the private sector. The Korean Government will vigorously support economic collaboration in the private sector and endeavor to help bilateral exchanges expand into culture, education, scholarship and tourism.

Q3: What are the main issues you plan to discuss with President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other senior UAE officials during the visit?

A3: At the summit, President Khalifa and I will discuss various matters of common interest including the current state of affairs concerning the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East and political and economic issues. We will also exchange our views on how to enhance bilateral cooperation in the international arena.

During this visit, I am also scheduled to meet with Crown Prince Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammad and Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad as well as other high-ranking officials of the UAE in energy, natural resources and information technology sectors.

In addition, I will attend a luncheon of the economic leaders of the two countries and visit to a construction site.

An agreement on cooperation in economy, trade and technology as well as MOUs on energy and natural resources, construction and IT, which are to be signed by the two governments during the visit, will provide the solid foundation for strengthening bilateral cooperation.

Particularly, as many Korean businesspeople are traveling with me this time, cooperation in the private sector will be discussed in-depth at the Korea-UAE Business Forum, a luncheon of business leaders, an IT business forum, and a technology exhibition of IT industry.

Korean companies have successfully carried out a countless number of construction projects around the world, including those in the Middle East. Many Korean enterprises are recognized for their state-of-the-art technology in cutting-edge IT fields, including Wireless Broadband Internet (Wibro), Digital Multimedia Broadcasting (DMB) and home-networking. I believe cooperation with Korean businesses will provide excellent opportunities for the UAE's economy as it does to Korea's.

Q4: The UAE already has extensive investment in Korea's downstream oil industry. Do you see any scope for further development of bilateral joint venture investment in both countries or for a free trade agreement?

A4: Given the scale and trade volume of the economy of each country, I believe bilateral investment cooperation should be expanded drastically. As the UAE has been successfully carrying out economic development in recent years and the importance of the UAE as a gateway to the Middle East has gained much recognition, anticipation for investment has been on the rise.

Especially as the UAE is pursuing to diversify its industries and nurture non-oil industries as a long-term growth engine, I believe there is an enormous potential for bilateral cooperation in those areas where Korea has a global competitive edge including manufacturing, IT and construction industries.

As bilateral trade, investment and overall economic cooperation are projected to grow even further in the years to come, entering into a free trade agreement (FTA) with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, which include the UAE, may be considered. Nonetheless, even before the Korea-GCC FTA is finalized, I believe that it is desirable that the two countries initially continue to expand collaboration in government procurement, energy and plant construction.

Q5: How do you assess the current state of relations between South Korea and the Arab States of the Gulf?

A5: The history of exchanges between Korea and the Arab States of the Gulf dates back to ancient times. As far as 1000 years ago, Koreans of the Silla Kingdom traded with the Arab merchants and, in the 1970s, many Korean companies took up the construction projects in the Middle East. Based on the relations of long-established friendship, Korea has continued to strengthen cooperation with the GCC nations and a stable energy supply from the GCC has also proved pivotal in Korea's economic development.

I anticipate that the more the economies of the GCC nations grow and the larger their non-oil industries expand, the stronger the collaboration between the two sides will become.

In November 2005, the Prime Minister of Korea asserted the Korean Government's determination to steadily solidify Korea-GCC ties on his tour of the five Middle Eastern countries. The Korean Government plans to expand exchange visits between high-ranking officials and to vitalize various consultative organizations of the two sides.

In particular, I hope that the collaboration between Korea and the Middle East will be further enforced as more people from the GCC side participate in the Korea-Middle East annual forum.

Q6: What are the prospects for substantive improvement in relations between the two Koreas and do you envisage any major progress soon within the framework of the multilateral talks involving the Koreas and the major powers?

A6: Since the Inter-Korean Summit Talks in 2000, the Government of the Republic of Korea has continued to promote the Policy of Peace and Prosperity with a view to bring peace on the Korean Peninsula and inter-Korea reconciliation, and, as a result, substantial achievements have been made. Inter-Korea meetings in various areas have been held regularly and inter-Korea trade volume exceeded US$1 billion last year. Progress is well underway in the three major economic cooperative projects, namely, the reconnection of inter-Korea railroads and highways, the construction of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, and the development of the Geumgangsan (the Diamond Mountains) tourism.




 

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