Geum Yi

S. Korea, Qatar agree to upgrade relations to ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’

October 25, 2023

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani agreed to upgrade the two countries’ relations to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” as they held a summit in Doha on Wednesday, the presidential office said.

The new partnership, which is an elevation from what was previously a “comprehensive partnership,” calls for strengthening strategic cooperation between the two countries, including by expanding diplomatic and security communication channels, and enhancing cooperation in defense and the defense industry, according to the office.

As part of the agreement, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in munitions and the defense industry, which calls for exchanging defense industry information and establishing a related joint committee, it said.

“This visit served as an opportunity to further deepen our cooperation in the energy and construction fields, which has driven South Korea-Qatar relations to this day, while expanding the horizon of our economic cooperation to diverse sectors,” Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo told reporters.

“By expanding our LNG cooperation with Qatar, which plays an important role in our energy security, to the entire scope of forward and backward linkages in the LNG industry, we upgraded our partnership from one between an energy supplier and importer to a mutually beneficial cooperative partnership,” he said.

The summit was held at the Amiri Diwan, the emir’s office, on the second day of Yoon’s two-day state visit to Qatar, which came as the two countries are set to mark the 50th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations next year.

On the occasion of the state visit, South Korea’s HD Hyundai Heavy Industries and Qatar’s state-owned petroleum company QatarEnergy signed a US$3.9 billion contract for the construction of 17 liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers.

The two leaders agreed to expand the two countries’ cooperation in the LNG sector to include the construction of LNG carriers, their operation, maintenance and repair, according to the presidential office.

They also agreed on the need to expand practical cooperation to diverse areas such as infrastructure, investment, farming, shipping, culture, people-to-people exchanges and health.

In addition, the two leaders held in-depth discussions on regional and global issues.

“President Yoon said he expects Qatar, which is playing a mediator role in the region, to contribute to easing regional tensions through communication with the relevant parties, and that South Korea will play a needed role and contribute in the process,” Kim said.

Yoon also requested Qatar’s cooperation in the international community’s firm response to North Korea’s illicit nuclear and missile development.

“Emir Tamim stated his support for our Korean Peninsula policy,” Kim said.

Following the summit, the two leaders attended an MOU signing ceremony which saw the conclusion of five MOUs on cooperation in smart farming, advanced technologies in the construction field, spatial information, small and medium-sized firms, and trade and investment promotion.

The ceremony was followed by a luncheon, where Yoon invited the emir on a state visit to South Korea, according to his office.

The emir agreed to visit next year, and the two sides agreed to discuss the details through their diplomatic channels.