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Yoon embarks on three-nation Central Asia trip

June 10, 2024 - 10:11 By Yonhap
President Yoon Suk Yeol (Right) and First Lady Kim Keon Hee bid farewell at Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, south of Seoul, Monday, ahead of their state visit to Central Asia. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol embarked Monday on a weeklong Central Asia trip that will take him to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on a mission to expand cooperation in critical minerals and other key sectors.

Yoon is set to make state visits to the resource-rich Central Asian nations through June 15, accompanied by first lady Kim Keon Hee and a business delegation comprising over 60 Korean companies.

It marks Yoon's first overseas trip since a state visit to the Netherlands in December.

On the first leg of the trip, Yoon will arrive in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, on Monday, and hold a summit with President Serdar Berdimuhamedow and attend a memorandum of understanding signing ceremony.

On Tuesday, Yoon will travel to Astana, Kazakhstan, for a three-day visit. He will hold a summit with Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on deepening the bilateral strategic partnership and meet with ethnic Koreans and South Korean residents.

On Thursday, the president will head to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, for a three-day visit that will include a summit with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and a bilateral business forum.

Yoon will depart from Uzbekistan on Saturday and return home early Sunday.

Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo said Yoon's trip will help create new business opportunities for South Korean companies in energy, critical minerals, infrastructure and other areas, and diversify cooperation in new areas, such as climate change response and technology.

During the tour, Yoon plans to announce the launch of a new initiative, called the "K-Silk Road," centered on creating a new cooperation model by linking South Korea's innovative capabilities with Central Asia's abundant resources and development potential.

It will be the Yoon administration's third regional initiative following the Indo-Pacific Strategy and Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative.

Building on the momentum from the state visits, the government plans to establish a summit involving the leaders of South Korea and all five Central Asian countries, including Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and host the inaugural meeting next year, Kim said. (Yonhap)