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Yoon returns to Seoul after Central Asia trip

June 16, 2024 - 10:56 By Son Ji-hyoung
President Yoon Suk Yeol and first lady Kim Keon Hee arrive at Seongnam Air Base, Gyeonggi Province, on Sunday. (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol returned to Seoul early Sunday morning as the couple wrapped up the state visits to three Central Asian countries.

Yoon on Saturday flew from the ancient city of Samarkand, about 270 kilometers southwest of Uzbekistan's capital city Tashkent, for his final engagement with his counterpart, Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Mirziyoyev formerly served as the governor of the Samarkand region from 2001 to 2003.

They visited historical sites that used to be the center of the Timurid Empire in the 14th century, such as a public square Registan and Gur-e-Amir, Turco-Mongol king Timur's mausoleum.

During his weeklong trip to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, Yoon garnered support for a multilateral summit with Central Asian countries next year during meetings with the leaders of all three of the countries he visited during the past week, according to the presidential office. Over 90 documents were signed during Yoon's visits to the three countries.

The trip also laid the groundwork for stronger minerals cooperation, increased development aid and active people-to-people exchanges with Central Asian countries via South Korea's envisioned K-Silk Road Initiative, according to Yoon's office.

Yoon's trip, however, did not come along with any announcements of South Korea's elevated diplomatic ties with any of the countries.