| 20 June 2024, Thursday |

South Korean president kicks off historic UK visit as two countries expected to strengthen ties

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and First Lady Kim Keon Hee have arrived in the United Kingdom for a three-day visit starting on Tuesday (Nov 21). President Yoon will notably be the first state visitor hosted by King Charles III since his coronation.
During the visit, Yoon is also expected to launch negotiations for a new free trade deal with the UK, said Downing Street, ahead of his arrival and will also hold bilateral talks with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
The two leaders are expected to agree on deepening cooperation and launch negotiations on an upgraded free-trade deal.

“Trade and investment is expected to be a key focus of the visit, with…trade secretaries from both countries preparing to sign an agreement to launch the negotiations for an upgraded modern, world-leading Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on Wednesday,” said Downing Street, in a statement.
This comes as the British government has sought to strike new deals with countries around the world, including India, following its departure from the European Union after Brexit.

Meanwhile, Yoon, as quoted by local media, told his cabinet last week that “the upcoming visit will serve as a springboard for further deepening economic cooperation between the two countries.”

He also said that the cooperation between South Korea and the UK will centre on science and technology as Seoul has sought to expand business opportunities and high-tech industry supply chains, he added.

Yoon will also be accompanied by significant business figures including Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong and Hyundai chief Chung Eui-sun.

The UK and South Korea have traded a total of goods and services worth $20.1 billion in the year to the end of the second quarter this year.
‘Downing Street Accord’
London is also hopeful that a new “Downing Street Accord” will be signed later this week which will help secure “robust supply chains” and increase technology sharing and defence cooperation.

“As two nations focused on innovation, harnessing new technologies and defending the international rules-based order, the UK and Republic of Korea are natural partners,” said Sunak, ahead of Yoon’s visit.

“Through our new Downing Street Accord, we will drive investment, boost trade and build a friendship that not only supports global stability, but protects our interests and lasts the test of time,” he added.

Both countries have also pledged to step up joint training and operations “to create the most comprehensive exercise regime between the UK and any partner other than the US,” said Downing Street.

King Charles to host South Korean president
Yoon’s visit, where he is expected to receive the full red carpet treatment, will also include a state banquet at Buckingham Palace and a lunch with the king and his wife, Queen Camilla.
Prince William, Charles’ eldest son, will meet the visitors on Tuesday and join them for an official welcoming ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in central London.

This is the first time that the new king will host a state visit since he was officially crowned in May.

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