Roh, Abdullah discuss Mideast


Later, the president held talks with Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah on a wide range of issues, according to the South Korean Embassy. Discussions included the escalation of violence in Iraq, the Middle East peace process, tensions in Lebanon and the North Korean nuclear standoff. The two leaders also discussed ways to boost Saudi-Korean relations.

A spokesman of the embassy said that during Roh’s visit three memorandums of understanding (MOUs) will be signed between the two countries. They will be on higher education, information technology and electronics and avoiding double taxation. President Roh has announced his country’s willingness to participate in the Kingdom’s economic development, particularly in the King Abdullah Economic City, which was launched last year.

“The prospects of increasing bilateral cooperation between the two countries are bright,” Roh said ahead of his visit in an interview, excerpts of which were published by the Saudi Press Agency.

“Many of the economic developments in Saudi Arabia are the result of efforts by Korean workers who built highways, such as the Jeddah-Makkah Expressway, the Jubail Industrial City, and other projects,” he added.

“I hope Korea and Saudi Arabia form a relationship of cooperation that goes in line with the age of information technology that we live in,” said Roh. “I want to stress that Korea would like to play a major role in the development plans of Saudi Arabia,” he said.

The South Korean president said that even though official relations between the two countries started in 1962, trade relations between Arabia and the Korean Peninsula went back 1,000 years.

He said his country would be signing a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Roh lauded the role of King Abdullah in trying to resolve the Palestinian issue and to preserve peace in the Middle East. He said the Palestinian-Israeli problem was the core issue that needed to be solved if peace and prosperity of the region were to be maintained.

Some 200 South Korean businessmen, who are accompanying the president, are to meet their Saudi counterparts today (Sunday) at the Saudi-Korean Business Council. Foundation stone for the first Saudi-Korean air-conditioning factory, LG Shaker, will be laid today. The event will be attended by Yamani, Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) Governor Amr Al-Dabagh, the South Korean minister of industry and LG’s president of the Middle East and North Africa.

According to the South Korean Embassy, President Roh is also expected to visit the Shoura Council today. He will be the second head of state to visit the Council after French President Jacques Chirac did last year.


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