Korea, Saudi Arabia ink US$30B in deals during crown prince’s Seoul visit

Posted on : 2022-11-18 16:34 KST Modified on : 2022-11-18 16:34 KST
S. Korea and Saudi Arabia agreed to work toward “strategic partnership” during crown prince’s trip to Seoul
President Yoon Suk-yeol poses for a photo with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia ahead of their talks at the presidential residence in Seoul on Nov. 17. (courtesy of the presidential office)
President Yoon Suk-yeol poses for a photo with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia ahead of their talks at the presidential residence in Seoul on Nov. 17. (courtesy of the presidential office)

President Yoon Suk-yeol and Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, agreed to work towards a “future-oriented strategic partnership” after their bilateral summit on Thursday.

Yoon and Prince Mohammed also agreed to establish a “strategic partnership committee.” The South Korean government is hopeful that bilateral cooperation will accelerate through the Neom project, a Saudi megaproject in the works that is aiming to build a smart city with an estimated development cost of US$500 billion.

Yoon and the Saudi crown prince held a summit at the presidential residence in Seoul’s Hannam neighborhood, to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

It is the first time in three years and five months that bin Salman has visited Korea, his last visit having been in June 2019. Yoon, who moved into his new official residence on Nov. 7, welcomed Prince Mohammed as his first guest at the home with grand hospitality.

During their meeting, Yoon said, “Saudi Arabia is Korea's largest trading partner in the Middle East and a partner in overseas construction, as well as a core partner in our economic and energy security.”

“Saudi Arabia is opening a new future through its 'Vision 2030' led by Crown Prince Mohammed, so now is the right time to raise bilateral ties to a new level,” the president added.

In response, Prince Mohammed said, “Since diplomatic ties were formed, Korean companies have greatly contributed to developing the national infrastructure of Saudi Arabia.”

“I hope to bolster our cooperation with Korea to realize the Saudi Vision 2030 based on the mutual trust built in this process,” the crown prince said.

The presidential office announced that Saudi Arabia asked for Korea’s cooperation in the development of hydrogen energy, carbon capture technology, small modular reactors; cooperation in hardware and software for defense; and help with construction and infrastructure.

The Korea-Saudi Vision 2030 Committee will be key in making sure that the two countries cooperate to gain promising results from energy, investment, defense, culture and tourism sectors.

Vision 2030 is Saudi Arabia’s industrial diversification plan to move away from focusing solely on crude oil exports, and Korea is one of Saudi Arabia’s eight major partners along with the US, Japan, China, India, the UK, France and Germany.

At the Korea-Saudi Arabia Investment Forum held earlier that day, major Korean companies and the Saudi Arabian government and companies signed a total of 26 contracts and memorandums of understanding on railway cooperation and other businesses based on the Neom project.

Neom is an eco-friendly smart city measuring 44 times the size of Seoul that’s set to be built in northwest Saudi Arabia. The project includes the Line, a linear city measuring 170 kilometers (the distance from Seoul to Gangneung); Oxagon, an octagonal industrial complex that will float on the ocean; and Trojena, a large-scale ski resort.

Saudi Arabia signed contracts with Korean companies for investment totaling US$30 billion on the occasion of Prince Mohammed’s visit to Korea, Reuters reported.

Prince Mohammed and Yoon shared their opinions about events on the Korean Peninsula and in the Middle East during their meeting.

“The two leaders strongly denounce North Korea’s recent provocations, which are continuing, and agreed to respond firmly, as responsible members of the international community and as important members of the G20, if North Korea goes ahead with a serious provocation, such as a seventh nuclear weapons test,” Korea’s presidential office added.

The Thursday schedule for the Korea-Saudi summit included an expanded meeting, a tête-à-tête and an official luncheon. Prince Mohammed was accompanied at the events by key aides, including his energy minister, defense minister, interior minister, foreign minister, national security advisor and the head of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, known as the Public Investment Fund.

Korea was represented at the meetings by Choo Kyung-ho, deputy prime minister and minister of economy and finance; Park Jin, minister of foreign affairs; Lee Jong-sup, minister of national defense; Lee Chang-yang, minister of trade, industry and energy; Kim Dae-ki, presidential chief of staff; Kim Sung-han, director of the National Security Office (NSO); and Kim Tae-hyo, first deputy director of the NSO.

By Kim Mi-na, staff reporter; Kim Young-bae, senior staff writer

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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