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[Newsmaker] Yoon touts ties with Switzerland

First lady Kim meets with Dubai princess, continues cultural promotion

Jan. 18, 2023 - 05:50 By Shin Ji-hye
President Yoon Suk Yeol and first lady Kim Keon Hee applaud during a meeting with Korean residents in Switzerland at a hotel in Zurich on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

ZURICH, Switzerland/DUBAI -- President Yoon Suk Yeol, who arrived in Switzerland on Tuesday evening, met with Koreans living in Zurich, vowing to make greater efforts for a new 60 years with Switzerland based on the trust and cooperation the two nations have built, before leaving for Davos.

Upon arriving in the city, Yoon and first lady Kim had dinner with around 80 Korean residents in a hotel. An estimated 4,000 Koreans live in Switzerland.

In an opening speech, Yoon said South Korea “solidified the foundation of economic cooperation” with Switzerland through the European free trade agreement in 2006.

“The bilateral relations set new all-time highs,” Yoon said, adding that opportunities of new cooperation in future industries such as pharmaceuticals and bio are “expanding” between the two nations.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of establishing bilateral ties between Korea and Switzerland. Yoon vowed to make efforts for the next 60 years based on the trust and cooperation the two nations have built so far.

“I am confident that standing in solidarity with an international society based on universal values of freedom, human rights and law are to protect the national interest and bring about economic prosperity,” Yoon said.

“We will find ways for cooperation in advanced science technologies with technologically advanced countries that share universal values with us like Switzerland in the era of science technology competition.”

Early on Wednesday, Yoon left for Davos to attend the World Economic Forum to meet with international political and economic figures.

First lady Kim Keon Hee, who is in the United Arab Emirates invited by the UAE leader, visits the Museum of the Future in Dubai with Princess Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed al Maktoum on Wednesday (local time). (Yonhap)

Kim’s cultural promotion with Dubai

Before departing for Switzerland, Kim met with a Dubai princess on the last day of President Yoon Suk Yeol’s visit to the United Arab Emirates, following her meeting with the UAE culture minister a day before, continuing to promote Korean culture.

Kim shared various aspects of Korean culture in a conversation with Princess Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum during her visit to the Museum of the Future in Dubai on Wednesday, according to a written statement by Yoon’s press secretary, Kim Eun-hye.

Princess Latifa, the daughter of Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, leads cultural and arts policies as the head of the government agency Dubai Culture.

Mentioning that Korea has yet to participate as a guest country in Dubai's art fair, book fair and Dubai Design Week, Kim hoped to see “opportunities between Korea and Dubai open up in the future together and develop through cultural exchanges,” the presidential office said.

Princess Latifa also hoped cultural exchanges would continue between the two countries.

Referring to Princess Latifa’s taekwondo skills, Kim said, “Korean culture and art will show a unique personality and beauty different from the works the princess has seen so far.”

Kim suggested the princess visit Korea, saying she “looked forward” to the day when the princess can come to Korea and experience the country's culture first-hand.

Princess Latifa said she has not been to Korea yet, but "really want(s) to go.”

Before the meeting, Kim visited AgroTech, a Korean smart farm company in Dubai. While being shown around the facilities Kim tasted a tomato the firm was growing.

Kim said, “Food security is a key issue amid the climate environment crisis,” adding that it was amazing that it was possible to grow fresh agricultural products in the desert.