On a visit to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol was greeted by an honor guard to increase the country’s military sales there.
Yoon’s visit comes when South Korea engages in multibillion-dollar business transactions and station special forces soldiers to defend the UAE.
This plan garnered criticism under his liberal predecessor.
The conservative leader now seems to seek to strengthen such military ties despite concerns with neighboring Iran, which have already resulted in Tehran seizing a South Korean oil tanker in 2021.
In my opinion, the Middle East’s geopolitical scenario is changing incredibly quickly, said June Park, a fellow with the International Strategy Forum at Schmidt Futures.
Therefore, Korea wants to guarantee that some strategic alliances and relationships with the UAE are maintained.
Yoon arrived at the Qasr Al Watan mansion in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who assumed power in May after years as the nation’s de facto leader, welcomed him.
Yoon and his wife, Kim Keon Hee, were received by an honor guard of traditionally dressed Emiratis.
They whirled replica Lee-Enfield weapons among warriors riding horses and camels. A military band played South Korean and Emirati music inside.
According to the Yonhap news agency, Sheikh Mohammed stated that the UAE intended to spend $30 billion in South Korea after the ceremony.
He said we invested because we believed the Republic of Korea would always honor its commitments.
The report didn’t go into detail.
Even though the energy-starved South Korean depends on the Emirates for less than 10% of its crude oil needs, Seoul has made several agreements with this country of seven sheikhdoms that have a solid connection to Abu Dhabi and go far beyond oil.
Cars, materials, and items worth billions of dollars are traded between South Korea and the UAE.
The presence of South Korean business leaders for a luncheon with camel meat at the palace demonstrated the significance of the trip for Seoul. Chey Tae-won, chairman of the SK Group, Executive Chairman of Samsung Electronics, Lee Jae-Yong, and Chairman of the Hyundai Motor Group, Euisun Chung, were present.
Officials stated before Yoon’s travel that the goal of the visit was to strengthen the existing connections between the two nations.
According to Kim Sung-Han, director of national security in Yoon’s administration, “this visit will strengthen strategic cooperation with our brother country UAE in the four main cooperative sectors of nuclear power, energy, investment, and military.”
According to Yonhap, a proposed arms transaction was also mentioned on Saturday by an unnamed official of the presidency.
In 2022, South Korea and the UAE already agreed on a $3.5 billion sale of the M-SAM, a sophisticated air defense system that can intercept missiles as low as 40 kilometers in the air (25 miles).
Officials in the Emirati have grown more worried about safeguarding their airspace due to Houthi rebels in Yemen, supported by Iran, being the focus of long-range drone assaults.
The Emiratis have been reducing their reliance on American military assistance ever since the chaotic American withdrawal from Afghanistan, despite the fact that American forces fired Patriot missiles for the first time in combat since the 2003 invasion of Iraq to defend Abu Dhabi during those attacks.