(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP
Seoul: South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol headed to the Netherlands Monday for a state visit that he said would focus on boosting crucial semiconductor cooperation between the two global chip powerhouses.
The Netherlands is home to ASML, which produces the lithography equipment that makes semiconductors, and for years the two countries have worked together "in an exemplary manner", Yoon told AFP in a written interview ahead of his departure.
During his three-day trip, he will visit the ASML headquarters, including its highly controlled "cleanroom" manufacturing facilities, becoming the first foreign leader to do so.
This "will mark a crucial turning point for the 'Korea-Netherlands semiconductor alliance'", Yoon told AFP, adding that discussions on chip cooperation were his "top priority" for his state visit, the first by a Korean leader since bilateral ties were established in 1961.
Yoon's office said last week that South Korea aims to establish a "chip alliance" with the Netherlands, which would involve government bodies, businesses, and universities from both countries.
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The Netherlands recently joined the United States and Japan in imposing export restrictions on advanced chip-making equipment aimed at preventing China from acquiring sensitive inputs that could be used in cutting-edge weapons and tech such as artificial intelligence.
The curbs have infuriated Beijing, which has accused Washington of "technological terrorism".
The US-led export restrictions have become an issue for South Korea's Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, which, like most of the world's biggest chip makers, base a large portion of their production, especially of advanced DRAM and flash memory chips, in China.
Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Jae-yong and SK chairman Chey Tae-won plan to join Yoon during the visit to ASML, according to local media.
Seoul is a key regional ally of Washington, and earlier this month, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urged US allies to stop China from getting semiconductors and cutting-edge technologies vital to national security.
Yoon said his country plans "to significantly boost semiconductor cooperation with such major countries as the Netherlands, the United States and Japan going forward."
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