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S. Korea, Saudi Arabia agree to step up nuclear cooperation

All Headlines 15:47 March 13, 2018

SEOUL, March 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and Saudi Arabia have discussed ways to step up cooperation in the atomic energy sector as Seoul seeks to tender a bid for the Middle Eastern nation's nuclear power project, the energy ministry here said Tuesday.

Paik Un-gyu, South Korean minister of trade, industry and energy, made a three-day visit to the resource-rich kingdom to meet with Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih to hold nuclear cooperation talks.

The policymaker also met with various economic officials to boost South Korean firms participating in Saudi Arabia's projects to build public transportation, railways and new cities, his office said.

Paik Un-gyu, South Korean minister of trade, industry and energy, (R) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih (L) during their meeting in the Middle Eastern nation on March 12, 2018, in this photo provided by the Korean ministry. (Yonhap)

His visit was aimed at promoting the Korean nuclear program as the resource-rich nation plans to build its first nuclear reactors as part of a new energy roadmap. The lucrative deal is a second chance for South Korea to tap into the Middle East market following a US$20 billion contract with the United Arab Emirates in 2009.

Saudi Arabia is expected to shortlist two to three preferred bidders by April and plans to select the winner by the end of this year, according to local reports.

The two nations have signed agreements calling for cooperation in the development and implementation of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as the kingdom is seeking to reduce its reliance on oil and develop the renewable energy sector.

In 2015, the two nations inked a memorandum of understanding to jointly promote the SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor) in the global market.

Two-way trade volume reached US$21.3 billion in 2016 with South Korea exporting $5.6 billion worth of cars, electronic goods, steel and textiles to Saudi Arabia and importing $15.7 billion worth of crude oil and petrochemical products.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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