In first joint statement in 43 years, S. Korea and Saudi Arabia vow to expand mutual investments

Posted on : 2023-10-25 16:30 KST Modified on : 2023-10-25 16:30 KST
The two countries decided to extensively expand their economic cooperation to areas such as the hydrogen economy, smart cities, renewable energy, future mobility means, and startups
President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea (right) follows Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia at Riyadh’s Al Yamamah Palace for the signing of contracts and memorandums of understanding during his state visit to the kingdom on Oct. 22. (pool photo)
President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea (right) follows Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia at Riyadh’s Al Yamamah Palace for the signing of contracts and memorandums of understanding during his state visit to the kingdom on Oct. 22. (pool photo)

On Tuesday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman issued a joint statement in which they pledged to expand mutual investments in areas including the hydrogen economy, noting that “there is still much space to further expand mutual investments.”

This is the first joint statement issued by a South Korean and Saudi leader since President Choi Kyu-hah’s visit to Saudi Arabia 43 years ago, in 1980.

In their joint statement, Yoon and Crown Prince Mohammed said they welcomed the fact that “the trade volume has increased 400 fold and the level of economic cooperation between the two countries has reached a significantly high level since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1962,” agreeing to “continue and deepen and advance the Future-oriented Strategic Partnership” established to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Subsequently, the two countries decided to extensively expand their economic cooperation, which previously focused on energy and construction, to areas such as the hydrogen economy, smart cities, renewable energy, future mobility means, and startups. Moreover, wishing for the “continued expansion of hydrogen cooperation,” the two leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation in the areas of peaceful use of nuclear energy, electricity, and renewable energy including solar and wind, as well as clean hydrogen energy for export from Saudi Arabia to South Korea.

The two leaders also agreed to cooperate on infrastructure, including on “giga-projects” the Saudi government is pursuing such as Neom, Qiddiya, the Red Sea Project, and ROSHN.

Moreover, the two leaders also expressed their determination to enhance cooperation in the fields of national defense and defense industries in order to achieve regional and international security as well as peace. South Korea and Saudi Arabia are working on a large-scale weapons export deal. Publicizing Yoon’s meeting with Saudi Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman, the South Korean presidential office shared that Seoul plans to cooperate with Saudi Arabia so that “weapons systems made up of excellent defense technology” help enhance the country’s defense capabilities.

Yoon seems to be attempting to break through multiple crises by taking advantage of the “Middle East boom.” During a dinner banquet with businesspeople who accompanied him to his state visit to Saudi Arabia, Yoon remarked, “I believe a breakthrough can be made out of the complex crisis faced by our economy through a new Middle East boom,” stressing that joint petroleum storage projects are like “precious priming water that will breathe new life into our economy.”

Yoon and Crown Prince Mohammed’s joint statement also expressed the two leaders’ determination to cooperate regarding the issue of North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles. They stated, “The two sides condemn all forms of violations of Security Council resolutions related to combating the spread of weapons of mass destruction, including the pursuit of nuclear and ballistic programs as well as arms transfer that could destabilize the Korean Peninsula and the international community.” The Saudi government commended the Yoon administration’s North Korea policy — the so-called “audacious initiative” — as “relentless efforts and determined endeavors.”

Meanwhile, regarding the war between Israel and Hamas, the two leaders stated, “Regarding the currently escalating situation between Israel and Palestine, the two sides rejected targeting civilians in any way, emphasizing the importance of protecting civilians in accordance with international law and international humanitarian law, and agreed to work with the international community for the rapid and unimpeded humanitarian assistance to suffering civilians.”

They went on, “The two sides stressed the importance of intensifying efforts to prevent the conflict from spreading and the need for political solution and durable peace based on the two-state solution.” Earlier, Saudi Arabia expressed its open support of Palestine while bringing up the importance of abiding by international law.

By Bae Ji-hyun, staff reporter

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

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