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Yoon urges Lee Myung-bak ‘to pay attention to feats in UAE’

Yoon urges Lee Myung-bak ‘to pay attention to feats in UAE’

Posted January. 30, 2023 07:49,   

Updated January. 30, 2023 07:49


President Yoon Suk Yeol reportedly telephoned former President Lee Myung-bak last week after returning from his tour to United Arab Emirates and Switzerland on January 21. Yoon told Lee that he would continue to build upon achievements from his economic diplomacy in UAE that entailed U’s commitment to invest 30 billion U.S. dollars in South Korea. The presidential office has said ‘trust of assets’ that Lee established with UAE during his term in office is significant, and thus is considering ways to utilize Lee in President Yoon’s ‘sales diplomacy.’

“President Yoon called former President Lee last week and held chats about the outcomes of his foreign tour including United Arab Emirates promise to invest 30 billion dollars in South Korea,” an official at the presidential office told The Dong-A Ilbo Sunday. “We understand that President Yoon urged former President Lee to pay continued attention as the latter has a relationship of deep trust with UAE.” UAE president Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan reportedly asked President Yoon about former President Lee’s health and requested Yoon to convey his regards to Lee when the incumbent president was paying a state visit to the United Arab Emirates.

Lee is said to have laid the foundation for South Korea’s bilateral trust with the United Arab Emirates by exporting the Barakah nuclear power plant, the first nuclear power plant in the Middle East, during his term in office in 2009. Yoon visited the Barakah nuclear power plant in person and gave away 100 pieces of his presidential watch to workers there during his visit. When Presidential Chief of Staff Kim Dae-ki visited the United Arab Emirates as Yoon’s special envoy late last year, he conveyed not only Yoon’s personal letter but also Lee’s.

“It would be great if former President Lee assumes the role of ‘special envoy to the Middle East’ and thus contributes to export diplomacy and promotion of trust,” officials at the presidential office and the ruling party have said. “Korea should continue to build up natural resources diplomacy that former President Lee established,” a presidential office source said. “Former President Lee should recover his health first.”

President Yoon will reportedly preside over an export strategy meeting to check the outcomes from his foreign tour, and review the direction of UAE’s 30 billion-dollar investment in South Korea soon. “We have to change rules and regulations that pose stumbling blocks to foreign-invested companies’ investment in the country,” President Yoon instructed justice minister Han Dong-hoon during Han’s briefing to the president on Thursday.

Kwan-Seok Jang jks@donga.com