DUBAI, Jan. 18 (Yonhap) — President Moon Jae-in has held telephone talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and expressed condolences to victims of a suspected drone attack claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, Moon’s office said.
The 25-minute telephone talks Monday evening came after the scheduled summit between Moon, who is on a weeklong trip to the Middle East, and the UAE’s de facto ruler was canceled due to an “unforeseen and urgent matter of state” by the UAE side, according to Moon’s office.
Media reports said a suspected drone attack, which is claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, killed three people Monday, while a fire broke out at a construction site at Abu Dhabi’s international airport.
Moon told the Abu Dhabi crown prince that he extends his “deep condolences and sympathy” to the victims of the suspected drone attack.
Moon also expressed “grave concerns” over threats against peace and stability in the Middle East, while condemning an attack against civilians, South Korea’s presidential office said in a statement.
The Abu Dhabi crown prince told Moon that Monday’s attack had been “anticipated” while asking for understanding over the cancellation of the talks, according to the statement.
On Tuesday morning, Moon is set to leave for Saudi Arabia for talks with the oil-rich kingdom’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
In Dubai, South Korea signed a preliminary deal with the UAE to sell Seoul’s midrange surface-to-air missiles to the Persian Gulf nation, in the latest sign of deepening defense cooperation between the two nations.
The deal was signed after Moon held talks with UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in Dubai. Although Moon’s office did not provide details of the deal, media reports have indicated that the deal is likely to reach US$3.5 billion.
In addition to the deepening defense ties, Korea and the UAE agreed to expand their cooperation into hydrogen, efforts to tackle climate change, space and science.
In Dubai, which is currently hosting the Expo 2020, Moon stepped up Korea’s campaign to host the event in the nation’s southeastern port city of Busan in 2030.
After arriving in Riyadh, Moon and the crown prince are expected to discuss how to expand bilateral cooperation in public health, artificial intelligence, hydrogen and education, while bolstering cooperation in energy, infrastructure and construction.
After holding talks with the crown prince, Moon will attend a business forum and meet Yasir al-Rumayyan, chairman of Aramco, the kingdom’s state oil giant. The chairman also heads Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, known as the PIF.