South Korean President leaves for Abu Dhabi

Lee Myung-Bak and UAE President will discuss economic cooperation at summit.

Seoul: South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak has left for the United Arab Emirates, the presidential Blue House said, as part of Seoul`s diplomatic drive to expand economic ties with the Middle East.

Lee and President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan will have a summit on Sunday to discuss economic cooperation, especially in energy, construction, environment and health care sectors.

"The Middle East region is important in our development. The United Arab Emirates is significant as a bridgehead," a senior official at the Blue House was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

After arriving Abu Dhabi, Lee will head to the eastern town of Al Ain, where he will meet with some 130 South Korean troops, Yonhap said.

Seoul sent the special forces unit there in January for a two-year mission to help train the Middle East country`s commando units and conduct joint drills.

The troops` dispatch came after South Korea won a USD 20.4 billion contract from Abu Dhabi in 2009 to construct nuclear reactors in the country.

Lee will also attend the ground-breaking ceremony for a nuclear power plant in Braka, some 300 kilometres (190 miles) west of Abu Dhabi, which will be developed with South Korean technology, Yonhap said.

During the four-day visit, Lee, accompanied by his wife Kim Yoon-Ok, will travel to Dubai on Monday to meet South Korean residents and receive the Zayed International Prize for the Environment.

The trip will be Lee`s second visit to Abu Dhabi since taking office in 2008. His previous trip was made in December 2009 when Seoul clinched the nuclear power plant deal.

Bureau Report

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