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Korea, U.K. to sign ‘Downing Street’ accord establishing ‘global strategic partnership’

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Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, and first lady Kim Keon Hee are greeted by an honor guard as they arrive at London Stansted Airport on Monday for a four-day state visit to Britain. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]
Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, and first lady Kim Keon Hee are greeted by an honor guard as they arrive at London Stansted Airport on Monday for a four-day state visit to Britain. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

Korea and Britain will adopt the so-called “Downing Street Accord” during President Yoon Suk Yeol’s state visit to London this week, elevating the two countries’ ties to a “global strategic partnership.”

The accord, which will mark the 140th anniversary of bilateral relations, will be adopted by Yoon and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during their summit at Downing Street in London on Wednesday, according to the presidential office in a statement Tuesday.

This bilateral agreement will outline the direction of future cooperation between Korea and Britain, upgrading relations from the current “broad and creative partnership.”

The accord will stress their shared stances on the North Korean nuclear issue and the situation on the Korean Peninsula, as well as their joint commitment to respond to global problems, including in Ukraine, the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific region, said the office.

They will promote cooperation in the fields of defense, security and economy. They plan to expand joint military training and promote joint maritime patrols to better enforce UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea.

The two countries will also establish a “strategic cyber partnership” to better respond to cyber threats. They will also sign a declaration of intent to forge a defense cooperation partnership and a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on defense industry exports.

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They further plan to cooperate in multilateral platforms such as the UN Security Council, Group of 20 (G20) and Group of 7 (G7) to strengthen the rules-based order in the international community.

The accord is “expected to solidify further the cooperative relationship established over 140 years between Korea and the U.K. and serve as a foundation for taking the relationship to the next level for the future generations of the two countries,” the presidential office said.

Yoon and first lady Kim Keon Hee arrived in Britain on Monday for a four-day state visit at the invitation of King Charles III as a part of a two-country Europe trip that will take them to France later this week.

As their first official schedule, Yoon and Kim held a dinner meeting on Monday with some 190 Koreans residing in Britain.

Yoon said he hoped that through his visit, the two countries would “build a new cooperation system in the security realm,” including in cybersecurity and the defense industry.

He further highlighted efforts to expand cooperation in trade and supply chains and science and technology sectors, including AI, nuclear energy, bio, space, semiconductors and clean energy.

The Korean presidential couple will be greeted by Prince William and Princess Catherine of Wales at their hotel in London on Tuesday morning. King Charles will later receive them in an official welcoming ceremony at the Horse Guards Parade with a 41-gun salute and an honor guard.

Yoon and the king will travel in a carriage to Buckingham Palace, where they will have a welcome luncheon.

Yoon will lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

He will also deliver an address in the Royal Gallery at the Palace of Westminster to both houses of Parliament.

In the evening, the king will host a state banquet in the palace ballroom.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]