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South Korean President Yun Seok-yeol begins state visit to UK to strengthen ties between the two countries

South Korean President Yun Seok-yeol arrived in Britain on Monday for a three-day state visit aimed at strengthening trade and defence cooperation between the two countries. The visit is an important step in the UK’s “Indo-Pacific Tilt” diplomatic strategy.

During the visit, President Yun Byung-se will receive a grand welcome, address Parliament and attend a state dinner hosted by King Charles III at Buckingham Palace. He will also hold talks with Prime Minister Sunak, focusing on trade, technology and defence issues.

The two countries will formally launch negotiations on an “upgraded” free trade agreement to replace the current deal, which largely replicates pre-Brexit arrangements. Since Brexit, the UK has finalised trade deals with Australia and New Zealand and joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade bloc.

South Korean President Yun Seok-yeol begins state visit to UK to strengthen ties between the two countries

Sunak and Yin Yimin are also expected to sign an agreement covering defence and technology cooperation, including artificial intelligence. The UK hosted the first international AI safety summit this month, and South Korea intends to organise a follow-up event next year.

The UK also plans to invest in South Korea’s semiconductor manufacturing industry as part of an international effort to diversify the supply of key computer components. Many advanced chips are made in Taiwan, with the coronavirus pandemic and an increasingly assertive China fuelling concerns about future supply.

The two leaders will also step up defence cooperation, including joint naval patrols, to enforce United Nations sanctions against North Korea.

Sunak said the agreements reached during Yun’s visit would “promote investment, boost trade and build a friendship that not only supports global stability but protects our interests and stands the test of time”.

President Yun Byung-se’s state visit to the UK is expected to consolidate the growing partnership between the two countries and enhance cooperation in the areas of trade, defence and technology.

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