South Korea and the United Arab Emirates agreed Tuesday to further enhance their bilateral relationship to upgrade their diplomatic ties into a comprehensive strategic relationship, a Seoul official said.
The agreement came in a meeting between Im Jong-seok, Seoul's presidential chief of staff, and Khaldoon Al Mubarak, chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi.
"The United Arab Emirates is the only country in the Middle East, with which we have a strategic partnership, and we have agreed to develop the relationship into a more comprehensive strategic partnership," Im said at a joint press event that followed his lunch meeting with Al Mubarak in Seoul.
The UAE official arrived here Monday as a special envoy of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
"The United Arab Emirates and Korea have a very special, long-term historic relationship," he told reporters.
"It is a relationship we care very much about and it's a relationship we are working together always to strengthen and to build more ties in more sectors. We have a very unique relationship that goes into many areas and many sectors, that covers all aspects of the government, private and public sectors," he added.
An official from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae earlier said Al Mubarak was returning a trip by Im on Dec. 10 to Abu Dhabi where he paid a visit to the Crown Prince.
However, his trip also came amid suspicions of soured relations between the two countries.
Cheong Wa Dae earlier dismissed such suspicions raised by opposition parties, insisting Im's trip to the UAE was only aimed at further improving the bilateral ties and visiting South Korean forces stationed in the Middle Eastern country.
Al Mubarak said the relationship between South Korea and his country remained strong.
"The people of the United Arab Emirates and the people of Korea share a lot in common and have a strong relationship together and that is reflected in the strength of the relationship we have between the United Arab Emirates government and the Korean government," he said.
The UAE official was later set to pay a courtesy call on South Korean President Moon Jae-in at Cheong Wa Dae, according to Cheong Wa Dae officials. (Yonhap News)