DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Wrapping up his first trip to the Mideast, South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday visited his nation’s special forces training Emirati soldiers and pledged that peace on the Korean Peninsula would bring new business opportunities.
Moon’s trip to the United Arab Emirates helped solidify Seoul’s ties to a nation vital to its fossil fuel supplies. South Korea is also building its first nuclear power plant overseas in the Gulf Arab state, the first such facility on the Arabian Peninsula.
The four-day trip was carefully managed for Moon, who faced no questions from journalists in the UAE, which has a deal with Seoul reportedly guaranteeing the Korean military’s automatic intervention in “an emergency.”
On Tuesday, a statement from the South Korean presidency said Moon visited troops taking part in a program called “Akh,” the Arabic word for “brother.” The program, running since 2011, has Korean commandos train Emirati forces.
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“The ‘Akh’ unit is a symbol of the defense cooperation between South Korea and the United Arab Emirates and will also serve as a stepping stone toward further developing relations between the countries so they would see each other as a ‘brother nation,'” Moon said in the statement.
Moon later visited Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. While at the tower, he gave a brief speech.
“South Korea is now building peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula. Right now is the best time to invest in South Korea,” Moon said. “If we can stabilize peace in the Korean Peninsula, your investment will bear fruit and new business opportunities will arise.”
Neither Moon nor Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha addressed the mysterious armored train that made a round trip from North Korea to Beijing on Tuesday.
Speculation about a visit to Beijing by North Korea’s reclusive leader or another high-level Pyongyang official ran high Tuesday amid talk of preparations for a meeting between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump. Moon and Kim plan talks in April seeking to defuse tension over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile program.
Associated Press writers Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, and Malak Harb in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.