Saudi Arabia and South Korea: A fruitful and enduring partnership

Special Saudi Arabia and South Korea: A fruitful and enduring partnership
Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul on Nov. 17, 2022. (South Korean Presidential Office/Yonhap via AP)
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Updated 18 November 2022

Saudi Arabia and South Korea: A fruitful and enduring partnership

Saudi Arabia and South Korea: A fruitful and enduring partnership
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accompanied by high-level delegation including ministers of energy, interior, national guard and foreign affairs
  • With 40 shared projects, South Korea is among the countries cooperating with the Kingdom to help achieve the aims of Vision 2030

RIYADH: The arrival of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Seoul on an official visit to South Korea has underscored the depth of the bilateral relationship 60 years after the two countries established diplomatic ties.

The crown prince and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol held talks on Thursday, during which they both pledged to strengthen relations in the fields of energy, defense industry and building projects.

Clearly, relations between the two G20 members have come a long way since 1962, when Saudi Arabia forged formal ties with the Republic of South Korea during the reign of King Saud bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and the presidency of Park Chung-hee.

South Korea opened its embassy in Saudi Arabia in 1973, while the Kingdom’s diplomatic mission in Seoul opened the following year.




South Korea’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, left, welcoming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Seoul. (Saudi Royal Palace)

The partnership assumed a strategic dimension in 2016 when the Saudi crown prince held talks with then-South Korean President Park Geun-hye, on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hangzhou, China.

The two leaders acknowledged the need to activate the work of the Saudi-Korean Joint Committee to enhance cooperation in various fields and encourage stronger trade relations. The committee was established more than 40 years ago to strengthen relations and common interests.

In 2017, the two countries launched the Saudi-Korean Vision 2030, forming a joint committee of representatives from relevant government agencies to review the partnership, approve projects, and implement plans.

Vision 2030 is Saudi Arabia’s social reform and economic diversification agenda, launched in 2016 to help wean the Kingdom’s economy off hydrocarbons and to promote youth and women’s participation in new sectors, from leisure and tourism to renewable energy.

South Korea is among eight countries cooperating with the Kingdom to help achieve the aims of Vision 2030, working on 40 shared projects and initiatives.

INNUMBERS

• 60 years since Saudi Arabia and South Korea established formal ties

• $26,506m volume of trade between the countries in 2021

• 132 South Korean investments in Saudi Arabia valued at $3.66 billion

These projects are divided into five sub-groups: energy and industrialization; infrastructure and smart infrastructure; digital transformation and capacity building; healthcare and life sciences; and small- and medium-sized enterprises.

The crown prince’s visit to South Korea in June 2019, at the invitation of then-President Moon Jae-in, marked another important turning point in relations, with an agreement to expand the scope of cooperation in all aspects of bilateral relations.

Those efforts appear to be paying off. The volume of trade between the Kingdom and South Korea in 2021 amounted to roughly $26,506 million.




S. Korea’s strengths in shipping and manufacturing underpin trade ties with Saudi Arabia, and plans to boost investment in energy, defense and green initiatives will forge wider economic links. (AFP)

The balance of trade that year recorded a surplus in favor of the Kingdom at a value of $19,646 million, with Saudi exports worth $23,076 million and imports from South Korea valued at $3,430 million.

Three of the most prominent Saudi companies have made investments in South Korea worth $6.35 billion. Chief among these is Saudi Aramco, which is active in the coal, oil and gas sectors, with investments worth $5.18 billion.

Others include SABIC, which is active in the chemicals sector, with investments worth $1 billion, and the Advanced Petrochemical Company, which works in the plastics sector and has investments amounting to $168 million.

South Koreans have made 132 investments in the Kingdom with a total value of approximately $3.66 billion. These cover sectors as varied as mining and quarrying, electricity, gas, air conditioning, transportation and storage, manufacturing and construction.

The companies involved in the investments include Samsung, International Maritime Industries, Rabigh Electricity Company, Alia Polymers Company, and Saudi Steel Pipes Company.




Transport makes up a sizeable chunk of trade between Saudi Arabia and South Korea.  (AFP file photo)

Samsung Engineering and Hyundai Group obtained a contract to implement work at the Jafurah gas field project in Saudi Arabia with a value of more than $11 billion.

In 2021, the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property registered 447 industrial models, 2,881 trademarks, and 543 patents among the filings of Korean companies. Samsung Electronics alone has 145 registered industrial models, while Daewoong Pharmaceutical has the highest number of registered patents, 16 in total.

Saudi Arabia and South Korea also share compatible plans to combat climate change, with the latter aiming to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the Kingdom aiming for the same goal by 2060.




South Korea’s Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, right, with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Seoul during their meeting.

In January of this year, on the sidelines of the Saudi-Korean Investment Forum in Riyadh, attended by former President Moon Jae-in, the Saudi Public Investment Fund, Korea’s POSCO, and the Construction Division of Samsung C&T announced a tripartite memorandum of understanding to develop a green hydrogen export project.

There is more to the relationship than business and investments, however. The two nations have forged significant cultural ties since the Kingdom opened its doors to entertainment, concerts and world cinema.




South Korean K-pop bands are frequent performers in the Kingdom, a sign of stronger cultural ties between the two countries. (AFP file photo)

K-pop stars Super Junior and BTS have performed in the Kingdom and Korean films and television series have graced its screens, provoking a growing interest in South Korea’s cultural offerings among young Saudis.

Around 175 Saudi students are now studying in South Korea, including many on special scholarships.

Given this scale of investment and the number of cultural exchanges underway, the Saudi-South Korean relationship is likely to be further strengthened by the crown prince’s ongoing visit.

 


Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, people warned to stay away

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, people warned to stay away
Updated 04 December 2022

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, people warned to stay away

Indonesia’s Semeru volcano erupts, people warned to stay away
  • Semeru volcano on Java island spews a column of ash 1.5km into the air
  • Indonesia has the largest population globally living in close range to a volcano
JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Semeru volcano on Java island erupted early on Sunday, spewing a column of ash 1.5km into the air, prompting authorities to warn residents to stay away from the eruption area.
Indonesia’s disaster mitigation agency, BNPB, warned residents not to conduct any activities within 5km of the eruption center and to stay 500 meters from riversides due to risks of lava flow.
Japan’s Meteorology Agency said was monitoring for the possibility of a tsunami there after the eruption, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The volcano began erupting at 2:46 a.m. (1946 GMT on Saturday), BNPB said in a statement. Videos posted on social media showed grey ash clouds in nearby areas.
BNPB did not immediately respond to Japan’s warning of tsunami risk.
Indonesian authorities have distributed masks to local residents, BNPB said in a statement, adding that volcanic activity remained at level III, below the highest level of IV.
With 142 volcanoes, Indonesia has the largest population globally living in close range to a volcano, including 8.6 million within 10km.

Daesh claims attack on Pakistani envoy in Kabul

Taliban fighters stand guard near to the site of attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP)
Taliban fighters stand guard near to the site of attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP)
Updated 04 December 2022

Daesh claims attack on Pakistani envoy in Kabul

Taliban fighters stand guard near to the site of attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP)
  • “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will not allow any malicious actors to pose a threat to the security of diplomatic missions in Kabul,” it said in a statement, vowing to find and punish those responsible

KABUL: The Daesh group claimed responsibility Saturday for an attack on Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul, which Islamabad decried as an “assassination attempt.”
A security guard was wounded in the attack Friday in the Afghan capital.
In a statement cited by jihadist monitor SITE, Daesh’s regional chapter said it had “attacked the apostate Pakistani ambassador and his guards.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called it “an assassination attempt” on the head of the mission, and demanded an investigation.
A Kabul police spokesman said one suspect had been arrested and two light weapons seized after security forces swept a nearby building.
Although Pakistan does not officially recognize Afghanistan’s Taliban government, it kept its embassy open even as the hard-line group took over in August last year, and maintains a full diplomatic mission.
An embassy official told AFP a lone attacker “came behind the cover of houses and started firing,” but that the ambassador and other staff were safe.
A spokesman for Afghanistan’s foreign ministry said they strongly condemned the “failed attack.”
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will not allow any malicious actors to pose a threat to the security of diplomatic missions in Kabul,” it said in a statement, vowing to find and punish those responsible.
Pakistan has complicated relations with the Taliban, with Islamabad long accused of supporting the hard-line group even while backing the US-led invasion of Afghanistan that toppled them following the 9/11 attacks.
Pakistan is home to more than a million Afghan refugees, and the porous border they share is frequently the scene of clashes.
Since returning to power, the Afghan Taliban have insisted they would not allow foreign militant groups to operate from home soil.
 

 


Concern as English local authority admits 39 Albanian child migrants missing

Concern as English local authority admits 39 Albanian child migrants missing
Updated 04 December 2022

Concern as English local authority admits 39 Albanian child migrants missing

Concern as English local authority admits 39 Albanian child migrants missing
  • FOI request shows 20 percent of 2022 intake ‘disappeared’ while in Kent County Council care

LONDON: Up to 20 percent of Albanian child migrants relocated to an English council in 2022 have been classified as disappeared after going missing, the BBC reported.

Kent County Council admitted 197 unaccompanied Albanian child migrants up to Oct. 31, but figures show that 39 have gone missing.

Officials said that the council is working closely with the UK Home Office to protect and safeguard vulnerable migrant children.

It comes as figures revealed that almost 12,000 Albanians crossed into the UK this year.

The number is an almost 4,000 percent increase on last year’s figure.

Ecpat UK, a campaign group that aims to protect vulnerable children, described the figures obtained by the BBC through a Freedom of Information request as “concerning.”

Head of policy, advocacy and research Laura Duran said that the 20 percent figure represented a “really high” number of missing children.

“We’re really concerned they are at risk of exploitation or have effectively been trafficked,” she said.

“They could be facing labor exploitation in different industries such as construction or car washes. They could be criminally exploited in drug distribution or in cannabis farms, or they could be sexually exploited.”

In a statement, Kent County Council said: “While all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are vulnerable to exploitation, research and experience evidences that some nationalities are particularly vulnerable and can go missing from local authority care very quickly.

“Kent County Council has used both established safeguarding protocols, including the National Referral Mechanism, and initiated multi-agency strategies to minimize the risks for these children as much as possible.

“The council continues to take a proactive role in safeguarding all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in its care.”


UK officials warn over Strep infections after child deaths

UK officials warn over Strep infections after child deaths
Updated 04 December 2022

UK officials warn over Strep infections after child deaths

UK officials warn over Strep infections after child deaths
  • Six children in England and Wales died after being diagnosed with the rare invasive Group A strep (iGAS) illness

LONDON: UK health officials warned on Friday that parents have to be alert for scarlet fever symptoms in their children, following the death of six youngsters from a more serious Group A strep-related illness.

British youngster Muhammad Ibrahim Ali, 4, started showing signs of a red rash across his lower back, and was prescribed antibiotics and Calpol.

Two weeks later, his condition worsened and he developed stomach pains, before dying in an ambulance en route to hospital.

Britain’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said five other children in England and Wales had died after being diagnosed with the rare invasive Group A strep (iGAS) illness.

UKHSA Deputy Director Colin Brown said the UK was “seeing a higher number of cases of Group A strep this year than usual” but resulting serious illnesses were “still uncommon.”

“The bacteria usually causes a mild infection producing sore throats or scarlet fever that can be easily treated with antibiotics,” he added.

“However, it is important that parents are on the lookout for symptoms and see a doctor as quickly as possible so that their child can be treated and we can stop the infection becoming serious.”

Brown urged parents to talk to a health professional if their child showed “signs of deteriorating after a bout of scarlet fever, a sore throat, or a respiratory infection.”

The UKHSA said there were 851 scarlet fever cases reported in England in the most recent week with statistics available, compared to an average of 186 for the preceding years.

Investigations are also underway following reports of an increase in lower respiratory tract Group A strep infections in children over the past few weeks, which have caused severe illness.

* With AFP


US condemns shooting at Pakistan’s embassy in Afghanistan

Islamabad  claims that  anti-Pakistan forces are organizing terrorist attacks from hideouts in Afghanistan. (AP)
Islamabad claims that anti-Pakistan forces are organizing terrorist attacks from hideouts in Afghanistan. (AP)
Updated 03 December 2022

US condemns shooting at Pakistan’s embassy in Afghanistan

Islamabad  claims that  anti-Pakistan forces are organizing terrorist attacks from hideouts in Afghanistan. (AP)
  • In Washington, US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Friday said the US condemned the Embassy attack, telling reporters “we offer our sympathies and wish a quick recovery to those affected by the violence”

ISLAMABAD: The US on Saturday condemned an attack a day earlier on the Pakistani Embassy in Afghanistan’s capital, in which a senior Pakistani diplomat escaped unhurt but one of his Pakistani guards was wounded, sending a wave of anger in this Islamic nation.
Friday’s assault comes amid rising tensions between the South Asian neighbors over Islamabad’s claims that anti-Pakistan forces are organizing terrorist attacks from hideouts in Afghanistan.
Shots were fired at the embassy from a nearby building by an as-yet known assailant or assailants. Shortly after the shooting, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif took to Twitter on Friday, calling the attack an “assassination attempt” against Pakistan’s head of mission in Afghanistan, Ubaid-ur-Rehman Nizamani.
Pakistan repatriated the wounded guard Israr Mohammad by helicopter and he was being treated at a hospital on Saturday.
The embassy attack came days after Pakistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar flew to Kabul to hold talks with Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on a range of issues, including the latest threat from Pakistani Taliban who recently ended a monthslong ceasefire with Pakistan and asked fighters to resume attacks across the country.
In Washington, US State Department spokesman Ned Price on Friday said the US condemned the Embassy attack, telling reporters “we offer our sympathies and wish a quick recovery to those affected by the violence.”
The US is “deeply concerned by the attack on a foreign diplomat and we call for a full and transparent investigation,” Price said.
The US chargé d’affaires for Afghanistan, Karen Decker also condemned the attack on Nizamani in a tweet Saturday.
“Outraged at attack on my diplomatic counterpart @PakinAfg, Ubaid Nizamani; I am grateful he is safe & wish a quick recovery to the brave security guard who was injured. I join the call for a swift, thorough and transparent investigation,” Decker wrote.
Muttaqi on Friday evening called Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to condemn the “terrorist attack” targeting Nizamani, according to a Pakistani Foreign Ministry statement.
Muttaqi assured Bhutto-Zardari that “the Afghan government will bring the perpetrators of this heinous attack to justice swiftly,” the statement said.
Bhutto-Zardari thanked Muttaqi and said the “Taliban government must prevent the terrorists from undermining relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” the statement said. It said Pakistan on its part reiterated its unwavering commitment to fight terrorism, saying “Pakistan will be undeterred by such cowardly attacks.”
Friday’s shooting comes a day after Pakistan demanded Afghanistan’s Taliban government prevent terrorist attacks being organized from their soil by Pakistani Taliban, who are hiding in Afghanistan.
Pakistan made the request after a suicide bomber dispatched by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan group, or TTP blew himself up near a truck carrying police officers on their way to protect polio workers near Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. A police officer and three civilians were killed in Wednesday’s attack.
The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group but allied with the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in their country last year as the US and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout from Afghanistan.
On Friday, Kabul’s police chief spokesman Khalid Zadran said police had detained a suspect at the building from where the shots were fired Friday. Also Friday, a prominent politician and warlord, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, escaped unhurt in a separate attack in Kabul, his office said.

 

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