Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Visits South Korea ahead of G20 Summit in Japan

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, en route to the G20 meetings in Japan this weekend, made an official and high-level visit to South Korea in a sign of strong ties between the two nations.

Photos released by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) show the Crown Prince was warmly received in South Korea.

During the visit, the Crown Prince met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in met Wednesday with visiting Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

“South Korea has made tremendous success in Saudi Arabia,” the Crown Prince was quoted by a Korean spokesman as saying. “I hope South Korea will do the same to further improve the bilateral relationship…People of both countries will thrive through cooperation in the sectors of defense and economy.”

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in.

Areas of economic cooperation abound between the two nations, starting with oil. South Korea is the world’s fifth largest importer of crude oil and Saudi Arabia has been its biggest supplier. According to reports, Crown Prince Mohammed promised to help with possible fuel shortages in case of supply disruptions caused by tensions in the Middle East.

During the visit, Saudi Aramco and its affiliates said it signed 12 agreements with major South Korean companies “to reinforce relationships with South Korea, expand international operations, and support the region’s energy security with the expansion of Arabian crude oil supply to Asian markets,” the company said in a press release.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and President of the Republic of Korea Moon Jae-in.

“Only a few decades ago, Korean companies played a vital role in Saudi Aramco’s upstream offshore growth development. Since then, they have moved into other sectors matching Saudi Aramco’s diversification strategy. Today’s agreements mark a new era of cooperation with our Korean partners who will play an increasingly important role in our strategy to capitalize on new initiatives that include long-term energy supply, maritime and infrastructure development, and breakthrough research and development in the automotive, crude to chemicals, and non-metallic sectors,” Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser said.

Saudi-Korean economic cooperation extends well beyond the energy sector.

As Theodore Karasik writes in Arab News, South Korean government officials have demonstrated the country’s willingness to use its resources to meet Saudi Arabia’s new push for economic and social transformation early on. “South Korea takes Vision 2030 very seriously. Korean companies have previously focused on exporting ‘Made in Korea’ products, such as cars, electronics and machinery, to the Kingdom. However, they now want to move beyond simple trade transactions and pursue a cooperative and robust ‘Saudi’ strategy. The expansion of relations between the two countries is focusing strongly on mutual benefit, especially in specialized joint ventures,” Karasik writes.