By Jack Kim
SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will make state visits to Saudi Arabia and Qatar on Oct. 21-26 and discuss business cooperation as well as security conditions linked to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, his office said on Thursday.
South Korea has serious concerns over the sharp increase in civilian casualties from the conflict and will provide aid on purely humanitarian grounds, Yoon’s deputy national security adviser Kim Tae-hyo told a briefing.
Yoon will also discuss cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Qatar focused on bringing peace to the region and boosting South Korea’s national security, Kim said.
After arriving in Riyadh on Saturday on what would be the first state visit by a South Korean leader, Yoon will hold talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Sunday and attend a luncheon, Kim said.
The meeting comes less than a year after the crown prince visited South Korea and discussed cooperation in the areas of energy, defence and infrastructure construction, signing investment pacts worth $30 billion with Korean firms.
South Korea is locked in a competition with Saudi Arabia to host the World Expo in 2030 but its conglomerates are vying to participate in mega projects such as the NEOM smart city in Saudi Arabia as well as to win defence contracts.
Yoon will attend events on bilateral investment and partnership on future technology that will highlight the growing significance of the two countries’ economic relationship. On Tuesday, he will address the Future Investment Initiative forum.
A delegation of business leaders will accompany Yoon on his Saudi trip, including Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Jay Y. Lee, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair E.S. Chung and the heads of Hanwha, GS, and HD Hyundai conglomerates, Yoon’s office said.
In Qatar, Yoon will hold a summit meeting with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Wednesday and attend a business forum. About 200 business people from the two countries are expected to attend the forum to discuss energy issues, including liquefied natural gas, hydrogen as well as solar power.
(Reporting by Jack Kim and Ju-min Park;Editing by Ed Davies and Alison Williams)