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Expanding diplomatic horizon with Middle East, Africa: Analysis Updated: 2022-01-21 17:08:05 KST

Expanding South Korea's diplomatic horizons.
On Friday, the South Korean President has wrapped up his week-long trip to the Middle East and North Africa.
His destinations were the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to foster cooperation in arms exports and clean energy
For more, we have Mr. PAIK Seunghoon, Researcher at Institute for Middle Eastern Studies at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
Mr. Paik, thanks for joining us.

First of all, could you tell us about geostrategic importance of the Middle East and North Africa?
Why should South Korea expand cooperation with those regions?

While in the UAE, the leaders of the two countries inked a defense deal.
Under the deal, South Korea will sell mid-range surface-to-air missiles, Cheongung II worth some 3-billion dollars.
How significant is the deal?

In Riyadh, South Korea and Saudi Arabia have agreed to bolster cooperation on hydrogen economy.
And President Moon also met the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council to announce the resumption of their free trade talks.
What economic impact will this have on both sides?

In Cairo, discussions were underway on South Korea exporting its K-9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers to Egypt.
What significance does it have?

There have been some unexpected events during the trip.
President Moon's face-to-face meeting with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi was replaced by a phone conversation due to a (quote)"unforseen and urgent matter."
Also, there was a drone attack in Abu Dhabi only around a hundred kilometers away from where Moon was staying.
While the Middle East is strategically important, some are pointing out the instable situation in the region.

Researcher PAIK Seunghoon from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
Thank you for your insights.
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