SEOUL // Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, said today the UAE seeks strong ties with world economic powers, including South Korea. Sheikh Mohammed arrived earlier today in the South Korean capital at the head of a diplomatic and economic delegation on a three day visit to the country. He is expected to meet with the South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. "We we aspire to develop and deepen our relationship with active world economic powers, with Korea being at the forefront," the Crown Prince said in a statement released upon his arrival to Seoul. Recent months have witnessed major developments in UAE-Korean relations, with the signing of a US$20 billion deal with a consortium of South Korean firms to build four nuclear energy plants in the Emirates. The peaceful nuclear energy programme reflects the UAE's interest in clean energy away from less environment-friendly fuels such as oil and gas, officials say. The first reactor is expected to be operational by 2017. "There is no doubt that the mutual relationship between the two countries has witnessed great strategic shifts with the winning of the Korean consortium," said Sheikh Mohammed. "The agreement between Abu Dhabi and Seoul is the largest deal in the history of the two nations' relationship." The two countries established diplomatic ties 30 years ago. The consortium, led by the Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco), also includes Samsung, Hyundai and Doosan Heavy Industries from Korea and the US firm Westinghouse as well as Japan's Toshiba. But Sheikh Mohammed made it clear yesterday that Abu Dhabi was interested in expanding an already strong relationship to new areas. "We hope that our visit would help support this distinguished relationship between the two friendly nations," he said, "through activating economic and investment partnerships in new sectors." firstname.lastname@example.org
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