Energy on the agenda when Saudi crown prince visits South Korea this week


FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the opening of the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

SEOUL (Reuters) – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman plans to visit South Korea this week as the two countries seek to bolster economic ties, officials in Seoul said on Monday.

The two-day visit from Wednesday will be the first by an heir to the throne of the world’s largest oil exporter since 1998.

The crown prince, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler and defense minister, will meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday, Moon’s office said.

“The two sides will sign a series of agreements to promote cooperation on areas including energy and public service,” a South Korean official told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia is South Korea’s top oil supplier. South Korea imported 101.5 million barrels of crude oil from the Middle Eastern country in the first four months of 2019, down 2.7% from a year ago, according to data from state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC). South Korea has also been keen on Saudi Arabia’s nuclear power project. State-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp was shortlisted last July to bid for building nuclear plants in the kingdom.

The trip follows a recent U.N. report that accused Saudi Arabia of the “deliberate, premeditated execution” of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October. The report said the crown prince and other senior officials should be investigated over Khashoggi’s murder.

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Jane Chung; Editing by Paul Tait

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