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President Lee to visit Turkey, Middle East

Cheong Wa DaePresident Lee Myung-bak and First Lady Kim Yoon-ok are scheduled to make a state visit to the Republic of Turkey, followed by a three-country whistle stop tour to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, from February 4 to 11.

Cheong Wa Dae announced on January 30 that President Lee will discuss the development of a strategic partnership with Turkey based on the long-standing brotherhood between the two nations. Following the four-day state visit to Turkey, the presidential visit to the Middle East is expected to provide momentum for cooperative relations with the Middle East in line with Korea’s efforts to diversify sources of crude oil imports and secure a more stable supply.

In Istanbul, the first destination of the presidential tour, President Lee will attend a CEO roundtable and meet with Korean and Turkish business leaders to encourage economic cooperation.

President Lee Myung-bak will then head to Ankara on February 6, where he is set to hold a summit with President Abdullah Gül of Turkey. During the summit, President Lee will converse with his counterpart on the bilateral free trade agreement and strategic partnership between the two countries, along with infrastructure construction projects in Turkey involving Korean corporations. The two leaders will also discuss ways to further expand the scope of collaboration in the international arena and work closely together in the realms of the G20 and the UN.

President Lee’s Turkish itinerary will also include a meeting with local university students majoring in the Korean language and those interested in the Korean wave and Korean culture.

During his visit to Saudi Arabia, President Lee will hold a summit on February 7 with King Abdullah to evaluate the bilateral ties marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The two heads of state will also discuss ways to deepen cooperation in the realms of energy, construction, and defense.

While in Saudi Arabia, President Lee is scheduled to attend the opening ceremony of the nation’s largest Janadriyah Festival, representing Korea as the guest of honor country at this year’s festival. President Lee will attend a luncheon hosted by economic leaders of the two countries, and plans to have an informal meeting with Korean residents as well.

Arriving in Qatar on February 9, the president will hold a summit with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and exchange views on global issues including green growth and climate change. Their discussions will focus on ways to further consolidate bilateral cooperation in energy and construction as well as the economy and trade. During his stay, the Korean president will also meet with Qatar’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning and attend a Korea-Qatar business forum.

The Korean leader will wrap up his week-long trip with a state visit to United Arab Emirates on February 10, for a summit talk with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on issues of mutual interest including trade and energy.

By Hwang Dana Staff Writer

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