South Korea and Saudi Arabia agree to strengthen energy and defense ties

South Korea and Saudi Arabia agree to strengthen energy and defense ties


Leaders of South Korea and Saudi Arabia on Thursday agreed to strengthen ties in key sectors like energy and defense, with the oil-rich kingdom inking a raft of deals including a $6.7 billion petrochemical deal .

President Yoon Suk-yeol met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the South Korean capital on Thursday, with the pair announcing a plan to turn bilateral ties into a “strategic partnership”.

Bin Salman, the kingdom’s 37-year-old de facto ruler, often referred to as MBS, arrived in Seoul late Wednesday after attending the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.

He is on a multi-stop tour of Asia to cement the Gulf nation’s ties with its largest energy market.

The trip comes as Riyadh is at odds with Washington over oil cartel OPEC+’s October decision to cut production by two million barrels a day.

Yoon and bin Salman agreed to expand ties into a “forward-looking strategic partnership,” Yoon’s office said in a statement.

The South Korean President wants local companies to get involved in key Saudi projects like the NEOM smart city project and strengthen cooperation in the defense and energy sectors.

Bin Salman “particularly expressed his desire for a significant increase in cooperation in the energy, defense and construction industries,” Yoon’s office said.

During the visit, the two countries’ governments and companies — including some of Seoul’s top conglomerates — signed about 20 contracts in fields ranging from agriculture to railroads.

The agreements included a Saudi investment for South Korea’s refiner S-OIL’s Shaheen project, which would build petrochemical production facilities in South Korea worth $6.7 billion, Yoon’s office said.

Bin Salman, who was formally appointed prime minister in September, has rocked the ultra-conservative oil titan with economic, social and religious reforms since his meteoric rise to power.

He gained worldwide notoriety in connection with the 2018 assassination of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

Last year, US President Joe Biden released an intelligence report that found Prince Mohammed had authorized the operation against Khashoggi, a claim Saudi authorities dispute.

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