President Yoon Suk-yeol departed for London on Sunday to attend the state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, kicking off a three-country trip that will include his maiden address to the United Nations General Assembly and summits with US President Joe Biden and the Japanese Prime Minister. Fumio Kishida.
Yoon’s second overseas trip since taking office will also bring him to Canada on the final leg.
He is expected to arrive in London on Sunday afternoon (local time) and visit a Korean War memorial honoring the 56,000 British soldiers who fought alongside South Korea during the 1950-1953 conflict, according to his office.
He is then expected to visit Westminster Hall, where the Queen rests in state, before attending a reception hosted by King Charles III to express his condolences over the monarch’s death.
Yoon, who is accompanied by First Lady Kim Keon-hee, will be among hundreds of foreign dignitaries attending the Queen’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday.
The president previously expressed his condolences during a visit to the British Embassy in Seoul and via Twitter, writing that the Queen “believed strongly in the cause of human freedom and left a great legacy of dignity”.
After the funeral, he will depart for New York, where he will spend most of his seven-day trip, and take part in a series of high profile diplomatic events.
One of the highlights will be a keynote address during the general debate of the 77th UN General Assembly on Tuesday. Yoon will make his UN stage debut with a speech outlining his vision for increased solidarity among freedom-loving nations, according to his office.
The speech will also underline South Korea’s commitment to defending peace against the threat of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, alongside its allies, such as the United States.
Other highlights will be Yoon’s first-ever summit with Kishida on the sidelines of the UN rally and a separate summit with Biden. The meetings will likely take place on Tuesday or Wednesday, according to his office.
The Yoon-Kishida meeting will be the first summit between the two countries since December 2019 and holds out hope for an improvement in relations badly frayed by wartime forced labor and other issues related to Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule over the Korean peninsula.
The two leaders held a trilateral meeting with Biden on the sidelines of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Madrid in June, and had several other meetings at events there, but did not are not seated for face-to-face interviews.
The meeting with Biden will be Yoon’s second since taking office in May following their summit in Seoul that month.
The two men are expected to discuss the implementation of the agreements reached at the May summit, but also address South Korea’s concerns over the recently passed US Inflation Reduction Act.
The law excludes electric vehicles assembled outside North America from tax incentives, raising concerns that it could pose a significant trade barrier for cars made in Korea.
Yoon’s New York itinerary also includes separate meetings with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Korean residents on Tuesday, as well as various sessions with scholars, scientists and businesspeople, and a hosted reception. by Biden at the American Museum of Natural History on Wednesday.
On the third and final leg of his trip, the president will fly to Canada on Thursday, a country that sent 27,000 troops to fight alongside South Korea in the Korean War, and shares the values of human rights rights and a liberal democracy, according to his Office.
Yoon will first stop in Toronto to meet with world-renowned artificial intelligence specialists and exchange views on expanding cooperation between South Korea and Canada. The president will then meet with Korean residents of the city.
From Toronto, Yoon will travel to Ottawa on Friday for a summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and discuss ways to deepen the bilateral strategic partnership ahead of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations next year.
Canada is a key producer of base minerals used in the production of batteries for electric vehicles, with South Korean companies planning large-scale investments in Canada’s battery sector, according to the presidential office.
Yoon will return home on September 24. (Yonhap)