South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol Lands in Riyadh for Economic Summit Amid Regional Tensions

RIYADH - South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol arrived in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh on Saturday for a state visit aimed at strengthening economic ties between the two nations. The visit will also focus on discussions concerning the ongoing turmoil in the region due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

According to News Releases by Yonhap News Agency, during his stay from Saturday to Tuesday, President Yoon will hold a summit with Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman. This meeting comes nearly a year after the Crown Prince's visit to Seoul, where 26 memorandums of understanding were signed on projects worth an estimated US$29 billion.

President Yoon is the first South Korean leader to undertake state visits to Saudi Arabia and Qatar. He aims to expand cooperative relationships beyond traditional sectors like energy and construction to include hydrogen, IT, autos, shipbuilding, renewable energy, culture, and entertainment, among other emerging sectors, as per Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo.

The visit takes place amid heightened regional tensions, specifically the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Kim Tae-hyo indicated that discussions regarding the security situation in the Middle East would be a part of the summit agendas with both Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

While in Riyadh, President Yoon will also participate in a range of forums and ceremonies to highlight the investment and technological cooperation between South Korea and Saudi Arabia, including a lecture at King Saud University and attendance at the annual Future Investment Initiative forum.

From Riyadh, the President will proceed to Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday for a two-day state visit. In Doha, he is expected to hold a summit with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and engage in various bilateral activities marking nearly 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations.

The trips occur at a time of growing uncertainty in oil and gas supplies, exacerbated by the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and Israel. Choi Sang-mok, senior presidential secretary for economic affairs, said that stabilizing oil and gas supplies will be discussed during the summit meetings.

The President is accompanied by a 130-member business delegation to Saudi Arabia and a 59-member business delegation to Qatar, including leading figures from major South Korean conglomerates like Samsung and Hyundai.

Yoon is expected to return to South Korea early Thursday, accompanied by first lady Kim Keon Hee.

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