SEOUL – South Korea wants to expand its cooperation with Saudi Arabia, its deputy foreign minister said on Tuesday, as Korean officials prepare for a possible high-level visit to the Kingdom later this year.

When Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Seoul for the first time since June 2019, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol urged better ties.

Their meeting paved the way for multibillion-dollar bilateral cooperation in space technology, energy, infrastructure, and the Kingdom’s giga-project NEOM, with Yoon saying after the meeting that more collaboration was planned because it was time to “take the relationship to a new level through Saudi Vision 2030.”

“Our cooperation and partnership with Saudi Arabia is very important,” South Korea’s deputy foreign minister, Choi Youngsam, told Arab News on the sidelines of the World Journalists Conference 2023 in Seoul.

“We have common interests with Saudi Arabia in many economic areas, including construction and cutting-edge technology,” Choi said.

“We hope to realize more detailed cooperative projects between our two countries.”

Crown Prince Mohammed and Yoon agreed in November to expand bilateral ties into a “future-oriented strategic partnership,” as well as to form a special committee to promote cooperative initiatives.

The November visit also coincided with the Korea-Saudi Investment Forum, which saw the signing of 26 agreements between Saudi firms and Korean counterparts on a variety of projects, including clean energy and building in NEOM — the crown prince’s Saudi smart city initiative.

Yoon has previously stated that he expects South Korean companies to engage in Saudi megaprojects such as NEOM, as such collaborations will help to revitalize the Korean economy.

A prior Middle Eastern construction boom aided South Korea’s rapid economic ascent in the 1970s.

Korean diplomats are currently formulating plans to follow up on the crown prince’s visit, according to Choi.

“There will be an important follow-up visit to Saudi Arabia this year.” We are currently conducting diplomatic consultations.”




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