President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jung-sook greet reporters as they board Air Force Unit 1 at Seongnam Seoul Airport on Sunday morning for a four-day state visit to Australia. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in left for Australia on Sunday for a four-day state visit at the invitation of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The two nations are expected to discuss economic, technology and defense cooperation.
It is the first time since 2009 that a South Korean leader has visited Australia as a state guest. Moon is the first foreign leader to visit the country since the pandemic started in March last year.
On Monday, Moon and Morrison are expected to host a summit in Canberra. They are to talk about strategic and practical cooperation in various fields such as political affairs, national defense, the economy, energy and technology. The two leaders will also have a joint press conference.
The following day, Moon will move on to Sydney to meet with Anthony Norman Albanese, a leader of the opposition Australian Labor Party, and with Australian businesspeople to discuss how to establish a stable mineral supply chain.
During President Moon’s visit, the two nations are expected to strengthen cooperation in future high-tech fields such as carbon-neutral technology, the hydrogen economy, space, cyber technologies and core minerals, Cheong Wa Dae said.
Moon will discuss cooperation with Australia, Korea’s No. 1 source of mineral resource imports, to establish a stable supply chain for raw materials and core minerals, including urea.
When Korea, which relies on China for 97 percent of its urea imports, struggled in November as a power shortage in China caused urea production to plunge, Korea imported 27,000 liters of urea from Australia.
“With the demand expected for key minerals such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and rare earth, which are raw materials for electric vehicles and secondary batteries, Australia is a country with high strategic cooperation value due to its abundant reserves of various key minerals,” said an official with the presidential office.
Australia is also determined to shift from traditional items such as iron ore, bituminous coal and natural gas to key materials for future industries, the official said.
“As Korea has abundant demand for core minerals as a powerhouse in producing electric vehicles and secondary batteries, the two nations are expected to expand exchanges and cooperation significantly in the future,” the official said.
In October, the two leaders agreed to forge a technology partnership to bolster cooperation in hydrogen use, solar energy and other low-carbon technologies with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality, in a joint statement announced after a bilateral summit on the sidelines of the G-20 summit.
By Shin Ji-hye (email@example.com