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South Korea exports 51,000 COVID-19 test kits to UAE

South Korea is exporting coronavirus test kits for the first time, according to Seoul's presidential Blue House on Tuesday. Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI
South Korea is exporting coronavirus test kits for the first time, according to Seoul's presidential Blue House on Tuesday. Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI | License Photo

March 17 (UPI) -- South Korea says it has exported 51,000 coronavirus test kits for the first time, to the United Arab Emirates.

Seoul's presidential Blue House said Tuesday the kits were exported express to the UAE. Other countries are due to receive shipments, Yonhap and MoneyToday reported.

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A total of 17 countries have made "official requests" for kits, but an additional 26 countries have also asked for other forms of South Korean assistance, including the deployment of South Korean medical professionals on the front lines of the global pandemic, according to reports.

More than 30 countries have made direct requests to South Korean biotech firms, rather than going through the government, according to MoneyToday.

The export of South Korean testing kits to the Persian Gulf nation comes a few weeks after President Moon Jae-in spoke to Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE's de facto ruler.

Kang Min-seok, spokesman for the Blue House, said the export of the test kits, the first of its kind, is part of international cooperation on mitigating the global pandemic.

Kang described the transaction as part of Seoul's "COVID-19 diplomacy."

South Korea is also working with neighbors China and Japan, Seoul's foreign ministry said.

Three director-level diplomats representing Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing held a video conference for the first time on Tuesday, according to South Korea.

The three sides did not agree to any actions but recognized the need to "cooperate, using various channels," in order to combat the new strain of coronavirus, according to local press reports.

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