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UAE President's Seoul visit postponed amid Middle East tensions

Oct. 12, 2023 - 14:58 By Shin Ji-hye
President Yoon Suk Yeol, who is on a state visit to the United Arab Emirates, greets Emirati leader Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan prior to the opening ceremony of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center in January. (Yonhap)

Amid escalating tensions in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan's scheduled visit to South Korea this month has been postponed, according to the Korean presidential office on Thursday.

Yoon's office confirmed to The Korea Herald that due to an “unexpected situation” in the region, the two nations have “mutually agreed” to postpone the UAE president's visit to Korea.

The rising conflict between the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas and the Israeli military is believed to be the underlying reason, though it remains unspecified. The UAE reported the change in plans for its visit to Korea a day earlier, according to local news reports.

In January, Yoon made a state visit to the UAE and secured investment commitments of $30 billion after a summit with Mohammed bin Zayed. Detailed discussions between the leaders were anticipated to confirm the UAE's major investment projects during the visit.

Earlier this month, official talks on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between Korea and the UAE commenced. The two nations aim to bridge differences in eight areas, including products, services, country of origin and cooperation. The CEPA, akin to a free trade agreement, encompasses not just the movement of goods and personnel between the two countries, but also extensive exchange and collaboration.