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    South Korean president travels to UAE, seeks arms sales

    ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) – South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol received an honour guard welcome yesterday on a trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as he hopes to expand its military sales.

    Yoon’s visit comes as South Korea conducts business deals worth billions of dollars and stations special forces troops to defend the UAE, an arrangement that drew criticism under his liberal predecessor.

    Now, however, it appears the conservative leader wants to double down on those military links.

    “I think that the situation in the Middle East is changing very rapidly when it comes to geopolitics,” said June Park, a fellow with the International Strategy Forum at Schmidt Futures. “So Korea wants to make sure some of the strategic partnerships and the components… with the UAE.”

    Yoon arrived at Qasr Al Watan palace in Abu Dhabi yesterday. He was greeted by Emirati leader Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who took office in May. An honour guard of traditionally dressed Emiratis greeted Yoon and his wife, Kim Keon-hee. They twirled model Lee-Enfield rifles alongside troops on camelback and horseback. Inside, a military band played the South Korean and Emirati national anthems.

    After the ceremony, Yonhap quoted Sheikh Mohamed as saying the UAE planned to invest USD30 billion in South Korea.

    “We decided to make the investment with confidence in the Republic of Korea that keeps its promises under all circumstances,” he said.

    The report did not elaborate.

    South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Emirati leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan walk past an honour guard. PHOTO: AP
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