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Park Geun-hye wants to expand spheres of cooperation with UAE

posted on 05/03/2015: 1509 views

ABU DHABI, SEOUL: Ahead of her state visit to the UAE, President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea has said that her country has laid the foundations of a strategic partnership with the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East region, expecting further development of bilateral relations between them to encompass many areas in the long term.

In an interview with the Emirates News Agency, WAM, President Geun-hye expressed her country's keenness to expand the spheres of cooperation to a much broader range of areas, including healthcare, intellectual property, IT and new and renewable energy. In this regard, she said that the enhancement of bilateral collaboration in a wide array of areas in recent times is very significant.

In response to a question asking her about assessing the development of relations between the two countries in the two years since her election as President, and the importance of exchanging visits at the highest level, the Korean President stressed that exchanging visits has made bilateral ties much closer. She highlighted the importance of the visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to Korea in February 2014, and also her first visit to the UAE in May the same year.

She expressed confidence that the fabric of cooperation relations would be strengthened immensely, if its scope were expanded to high value-added areas that can serve as new engines of growth, including information and communications, education, finance, nuclear power plants and healthcare and medical services, in addition to the existing fields of cooperation such as energy, construction and plant engineering. She expressed hope that the two countries can together build a future of shared prosperity by further deepening their strategic partnership.

In response to a question about whether Korean relations with the UAE are confined to energy issues, and which areas she deems important with long-term significance especially that the Korean National Oil Company already has oil concession agreements in Abu Dhabi and is seeking more, while Korean firms are heavily involved in building the UAE's first nuclear power plant, she said that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1980, the energy and construction sectors have been key elements in the steady development of friendly and cooperative ties between the two countries. The construction of a nuclear power plant in Barakah, in particular, carries great symbolic significance as it has laid the groundwork for cooperation not only for today but also for the next hundred years.

"Rather than remaining content with what we have achieved thus far, however, we are eager to expand the sphere of cooperation to a much broader range of areas, including healthcare, intellectual property, IT and new and renewable energy. In this regard, the enhancement of our bilateral collaboration in a wide array of areas in recent times is very significant," she stated.

In this regard, she noted that there is much progress being made in the healthcare sector. Patents are another area in which both countries are actively working together, as seen in Korea's participation in the establishment of the UAE's IT-based patent administration system. She said that she hoped to see more of such collaboration in the future.

She elaborated by saying, "The IT and new and renewable energy industries are also promising sectors for more vibrant cooperation, in light of the fact that both of our countries are nurturing them as new growth engines.

"Given its strength in manufacturing, including automobiles, ships and semiconductors, Korea is well poised to become a strong partner as the UAE seeks to diversify its industries under its Vision 2021 and the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 initiatives." Answering a question on what scope she could see for the further expansion of Korean-UAE economic relations, the Korean President said that both the UAE and Korea achieved rapid economic growth in a short period of time by capitalising on their geographical advantages as regional hubs and talented human resources.

She added, "As of now, the two nations are seeking to make another fresh leap forward by pushing ahead with policies promoting creativity and innovation: Korea through its Three-year Plan for Economic Innovation and the UAE through its Vision 2021. These similarities have enabled our two nations to build solid trust from which a strategic partnership for the next hundred years has emerged." The Korean President went on to say, "Korea and the UAE have complementary strengths, with Korea's in the manufacturing, ICT, healthcare and medical services sectors, and the UAE's in energy, finance and capital. As such, I believe we still have huge untapped potential for future economic cooperation." She expressed her hope that the close ties between the two countries will be diversified in the future to include all sectors of the economy and that the fruits of bilateral cooperation between the two countries will lead to a new paradigm for working together in third countries.

In response to a question on the greatest challenges and opportunities in terms of the future development of UAE-Korean relations, she answered, "In preparing for the coming post-oil era, it is imperative that our two countries enhance cooperation in higher value-added sectors that could serve as new drivers of growth." Adding, "At the same time, to further deepen the existing cooperation in the energy and engineering sectors, it is also crucial that our two governments better identify the needs of business and provide appropriate support." She said that she hoped the bilateral relationship will also be strengthened in terms of diplomacy and security in particular, since peace and stability in the respective neighbourhoods of Northeast Asia and the Middle East are crucial to the prosperity of both countries. She expressed the hope that discussions will continue on ways to contribute to stability in both regions.

In this context, she said that her country appreciates the UAE's active participation in sending a unified international message urging North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme and cease its provocations, looking forward to continuing such cooperation in the future.

Speaking about collaboration in the international arena, and which issues provide the best opportunities for such collaboration, she said that at the United Nations and other international fora, Korea and the UAE have been cooperating closely on a variety of issues, including economic development, climate change and human rights.

In particular, she said, the UAE government attaches great priority to addressing the issue of water and has been making significant contributions to meeting what is becoming an enormous challenge to humanity.

Korea also hopes to contribute to finding solutions to the global water issue, and will be hosting the World Water Forum this April, looking forward to the UAE's participation in this forum to share expertise and wisdom in that field.

"As a founding member and contributing member of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), headquartered in Seoul, the UAE has made great contributions to the growth of the GGGI into an international organisation. I look forward to the sustained interest and involvement of the UAE in making sure the organisation achieves substantive and sustainable outcomes," she noted, adding, "Beyond this, we can expand the horizons of Korea-UAE cooperation to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and hold a steady strategic dialogue between Korea and the GCC, which will allow us to strengthen substantive cooperation at the regional level." Answering a question on terrorism issues and Korea's role in the international fight against it, she said, "The threat of terrorism is going beyond certain regions and spreading across the world, the seriousness of the threat is such that no country is immune to terrorism. Given how terrorism today is assuming increasingly diverse forms, the international community must also be more multi-dimensional in its response." At the United Nations Security Council Summit last September, the Korean President highlighted the root causes of these new forms of terrorism, including foreign terrorist fighters, and stressed the importance of strengthening international efforts to address the challenges of poverty, youth unemployment, marginalisation of certain social groups and the spread of violent extremism.

President Park Geun-hye concluded by saying, "Taking part in these international efforts to meet the challenge of terrorism, the Korean Government has been active in providing humanitarian assistance. I applaud the contributions the UAE has been making in the field of humanitarian assistance over the years and look forward to continued active cooperation between our two countries." – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


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