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S. Korean president heads home after 3-nation trip to Central Asia

South Korean President Moon Jae-in headed home Tuesday, wrapping up a state visit to Kazakhstan that also concluded his three-nation tour in Central Asia.

Moon's departure came one day after he and Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev agreed to boost their countries' bilateral ties and economic cooperation in their first summit held here.


To this end, the countries have signed a new agreement calling for a "fresh wind," or cooperation, in various areas, including ICT, transportation and infrastructure.

Moon arrived here Sunday on a three-day state visit.

The tour marked the South Korea president's first trip to Central Asia since he took office in May 2017. His latest overseas trip has largely been aimed at enhancing his country's relationship with the three Central Asian countries under his New Northern Policy.

"Uzbekistan's government is strengthening its cooperation with neighboring Eurasian countries while pushing for industrial diversification, currency market liberalization and foreign investment. This is in the same context of South Korea's New Northern Policy, which seeks to strengthen its cooperation with Central Asian countries under the vision of peace and joint prosperity in Eurasia," Moon said while meeting a group of business leaders from South Korea and Uzbekistan in Tashkent on Friday.


Moon and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev agreed to upgrade their countries' relationship to a special strategic partnership in their bilateral summit in the Uzbek capital.

Moon's three-nation tour also took him to Turkmenistan for a summit with his Turkmen counterpart, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

Following their summit on Wednesday, Seoul and Ashgabat signed more than two dozen fresh agreements aimed at boosting the countries' bilateral cooperation in various areas, including ICT, energy and education.

South Korea's relations with Central Asian countries currently remain weak, with its trade with five countries in the region coming to only US$4.4 billion in 2018, a fraction of South Korea's total trade volume of over $1 trillion.

"But this means there is greater potential for growth in trade, and the (Central Asian countries') cooperation with our country is in fact growing rapidly," Moon's economic adviser Joo Hyung-chul said before the South Korean leader embarked on his eight-day trip last Tuesday.

Joo later said Moon's visit to Uzbekistan alone may have led to new business projects worth over $12 billion in total.

The South Korean president will arrive home Tuesday night. (Yonhap)