(MENAFN) President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea has embarked on a formal three-day state visit to the United Kingdom, landing at Stansted Airport near London on Monday. The visit aims to strengthen trade and defense relationships between the two nations, aligning with Britain's aspiration to solidify an "Indo-Pacific tilt" in its foreign and trade policy. The visit will encompass various ceremonial and diplomatic events, including a ceremonial welcome, an address to Parliament, and a state banquet hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace.
President Yoon is scheduled to engage in talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, focusing on trade, technology, and defense. The discussions will initiate official talks on an "upgraded" free trade agreement to replace the existing deal, which mirrors the arrangements the UK had before its departure from the European Union in 2020. While Britain has commenced trade negotiations with several countries, final deals have been concluded only with Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, the UK has joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), an Asia-Pacific trade bloc.
The anticipated agreement between Sunak and Yoon encompasses defense and technology cooperation, with a focus on artificial intelligence. Both countries plan to sign an accord that addresses collaboration in these strategic areas, aligning with their shared interest in advancing AI safety. Britain recently hosted the first international AI Safety Summit, and South Korea intends to organize a follow-up event next year.
Furthermore, the UK is poised to invest in South Korean semiconductor manufacturing, contributing to global efforts to diversify the supply chain for crucial computer components. Concerns about future chip supply, exacerbated by the pandemic and geopolitical dynamics, have prompted nations to seek alternatives to the concentrated production in Taiwan.
Defense collaboration is another key aspect of the discussions, with plans for joint naval patrols to enforce UN sanctions on North Korea. Prime Minister Sunak expressed confidence that agreements reached during President Yoon's visit would drive investment, boost trade, and foster a lasting friendship that supports global stability while protecting the interests of both nations. The visit underscores the significance of bilateral ties in the evolving geopolitical landscape.
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