A high-ranking official of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will visit South Korea this week amid snowballing speculations about bilateral feuds over nuclear cooperation or military ties, informed sources said Sunday.
Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi, is expected to arrive in Seoul on early Monday to discuss pending issues between the two countries, they said.
He is one of the closest aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. He was present at the crown prince's meeting with Korean presidential chief of staff Im Jong-seok in Abu Dhabi early last month.
Al Mubarak's trip comes amid a nagging controversy in South Korea over Im's real mission.
The Korean government only said Im discussed ways to improve bilateral ties. But opposition politicians and media raised suspicions that his trip was to allay the UAE's concerns about the impact President Moon Jae-in's nuclear-free policy will have on deals for South Korea to build and manage nuclear reactors in the Middle East country.
Speculations also emerged that his visit was to address the UAE's grievances over Seoul's alleged attempts to reduce its troop presence in the country or revise "secret" mutual military agreements signed under Moon's predecessors.
The sources said Al Mubarak is expected to meet President Moon, chief aide Im, National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun and other ranking government and parliamentary officials during his upcoming visit.
He is expected to arrange Moon's possible visit to the UAE, they added. During phone talks in June, Moon told the crown prince that he hoped to attend the ceremony to mark the completion of a nuclear reactor in the country built by South Korea
As chairman of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, he is also likely to meet Korean business leaders especially those in the nuclear energy sector, sources said. (Yonhap News)