Saudi Arabia`s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is expected to stop by Seoul to meet with the Korean government and business leaders on his way to the Group of 20 Summit next week in Osaka, Japan.
MBS, nicknamed as “Mr. Everything,” is one of the most influential figures of Saudi Arabia, making major decisions on state matters on behalf of his aged father King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Prior to attending the G20 summit that is due to be held in Osaka, Japan on June 28-29, MBS reportedly will be meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on June 26. According to diplomatic sources on Tuesday, MBS’s schedule in Seoul, including a meeting with President Moon, is close to being finalized.
He initially planned to make a state visit to Korea in February but the plan was delayed.
According to the sources, the Saudi government has asked its Korean counterpart to arrange for meetings between its economic delegation accompanying the crown prince and the leaders of Korean enterprises. The Blue House is said to be preparing a welcoming ceremony, where chiefs of Korea’s top conglomerates including Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK, and LG will be invited.
During his visit to Seoul, MBS is also expected to attend a ceremony celebrating the completion of S Oil’s residue upgrading facility. S-Oil is Korea’s third largest oil refiner that is wholly owned by Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil company.
Korean business circle sources expect MBS’s visit to Seoul would deliver various opportunities for further expanding the business and economic ties between the two countries, given the fact that the crown prince has been one of the key figures behind Saudi Arabia’s vast plan of restructuring its oil-dependent economy. When MBS visited China in February, he sealed economic cooperation agreements worth a total of $28 billion.
The crown prince has been spearheading an ambitious plan to wean the country off heavy reliance on oil through constructions of commercial nuclear reactors. Korea, which has sold its indigenous reactor technology to neighboring United Arab Emirates, hopes it can partake in Saudi Arabia’s project to build 16 reactors by 2030.
Experts say the Saudi Arabian government and the crown prince have been actively seeking to restore the country’s reputation that was tarnished after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey.
By Han Ye-kyung and Cho Jeehyun
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