Korea, UAE reaffirm nuclear ties

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Korea, UAE reaffirm nuclear ties

An influential adviser to the royal family of the United Arab Emirates met with Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Paik Un-gyu to reaffirm the two countries cooperation on nuclear power on Tuesday.

Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi and chairman of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, and Paik met at the Four Seasons hotel in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul to discuss nuclear power and renewable energy.

“Chairman Al Mubarak has given me specific advice on how to advance in Saudi Arabia’s market,” Paik said after the meeting.

“He said the two countries should develop a future-oriented companionship for the next 100 years considering the management of nuclear plants will last for the next 60 years,” Paik said. “He said he will cooperate in the Saudi matter.”

Paik said the two reaffirmed their commitment to the successful completion of the Barakah nuclear power plant, which the Korean government won the bid for in 2009.

Currently the first of the four reactors to be built is scheduled to be completed this year.

Paik stressed that Al Mubarak did not raise any problems or complaints in regard to the nuclear power plants, adding that the envoy gave high points on the execution of the budget and schedule of the power plant construction.

“He said every time he meets with other people, he expresses great pride in the nuclear power plant contract with Korea and recommends it to other countries as well,” Paik said.

The minister said Al Mubarak was confused himself why there was a controversy regarding the power plant deal.

The recent visit of President Moon Jae-in’s closets aide Im Jong-seok to the UAE stirred up controversy, raising speculation that the Blue House chief of staff had rushed to Abu Dhabi to patch up the relationship with the Middle Eastern country.

The Blue House has not yet given a clear reason behind the visit that took place last month.

According to the Korean Ministry, Paik and the Al Mubarak also discussed the possibility of working together in the solar energy business in the Middle East. Al Mubarak, who is also the chief executive of one of the world’s largest sovereign funds Mubadala Investment, expressed interest in renewable energy.

Paik said Al Mubarak was particularly interested in cooperating with Korea, which has advanced technology in solar panels.

During his visit Al Mubarak also met with major Korean businessmen including GS Group Chairman Huh Chang-soo and SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won on Monday.

Both conglomerates are in the energy business and GS Group has several businesses in Abu Dhabi, including the conglomerates’ refinery arm GS Caltex, which imports 30 percent of its crude oil from the UAE. Huh met with the envoy for 30 minutes.

SK currently has no businesses in Abu Dhabi, although Chey has reportedly taken an interest in potential construction projects. The SK Group chairman met with Al Mubarak for nearly three and a half hours.

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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