President Moon Jae-in returned home Tuesday after an eight-day trip to Central Asia aimed at improving the country's relations with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
His arrival here came hours after he left Kazakhstan, where he made a three-day state visit for a meeting with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
In their first bilateral summit, Moon and Tokayev agreed to greatly boost their countries' bilateral ties, economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.
To this end, the countries have signed a new agreement calling for "fresh wind" or cooperation in various new areas, including ICT, transportation and infrastructure.
The trip marked Moon's first visit to Central Asia since he took office in May 2017. It was largely aimed at enhancing his country's relationship with the three Central Asian countries under his New Northern Policy.
Before Kazakhstan, the South Korean president made a four-day state visit to Uzbekistan.
"Uzbekistan's government is strengthening its cooperation with neighboring Eurasian countries while pushing for industrial diversification, currency market liberalization and foreign investment. This is in the same context of South Korea's New Northern Policy that seeks to strengthen its cooperation with Central Asian countries under the vision of peace and joint prosperity in Eurasia," Moon said while meeting with a group of business leaders from South Korea and Uzbekistan in Tashkent on Friday.
|South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) shakes hands with Kazakh officials at Nur-Sultan International Airport in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, on April 23, 2019, prior to his departure for home, ending a weeklong Central Asia tour that also took him to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. (Yonhap)|
Moon and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev agreed to upgrade their countries' relationship to a special strategic partnership in their bilateral summit held in the Uzbek capital.
Moon's latest overseas trip began in Turkmenistan, where he and President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow agreed to expand the countries' cooperation to new areas including ICT, education and health and medical sectors.
Seoul and Ashgabat have also signed more than two dozen fresh agreements aimed at boosting the countries' bilateral cooperation.
South Korea's relations with Central Asian countries currently remain weak with its trade with five countries in this region coming to $4.4 billion in 2018, only a fraction of South Korea's total trade volume of over $1 trillion.
"But this means there is greater potential for growth in trade, and the (Central Asian countries') cooperation with our country is in fact growing rapidly," Moon's economic adviser Joo Hyung-chul said before the South Korean leader embarked on his eight-day trip last Tuesday.
Joo later said Moon's visit to Uzbekistan alone may have led to new business projects worth over $12 billion in total. (Yonhap)