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Saudi Arabia signs defence deal with South Korea

Saudi defence minister Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz signed the deal with his South Korean counterpart Shin Won-Sik IMAGO/APAimages via Reuters Connect
Saudi defence minister Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz signed the deal with his counterpart from South Korea, Shin Won-sik
  • MOU agreed on February 4
  • Aims to ‘enhance collaboration’
  • Kingdom fifth-largest military spender

Saudi Arabia has signed an agreement on defence cooperation with South Korea under which Seoul could sell weapons to Riyadh.

It could also help Saudi Arabia to develop its own armaments industry. 

The memorandum of understanding was signed on February 4 by Saudi Arabian minister of defence Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz and South Korean minister of national defence Shin Won-sik on the sidelines of the World Defense Show, an industry exhibition being held in Riyadh this week.

“During the meeting, relations between the two nations were discussed, with a focus on strategies to enhance collaboration in the military and defence sectors,” the official Saudi Press Agency said. 

Saudi Arabia was ranked fifth in the table of world military spenders in 2022, behind the United States, China, Russia and India, according to GlobalData. 

The kingdom is trying to create its own defence industry to create jobs and reduce reliance on foreign expertise, as part of its mammoth economic development programme. 

Military fixed-wing aircraft account for more than 50 percent of Saudi purchases and are made mainly by five companies. 

Shin also held talks with Abdullah bin Bandar Al Saud, cabinet minister for Saudi Arabia’s elite National Guard, covering military cooperation and defence partnership, media in South Korea said. 

South Korea, which signed a free trade agreement with Gulf Cooperation Council states in December 2023, is trying to become one of the world’s largest arms suppliers, with sales jumping in 2022 to $17 billion globally from $7.25 billion the year before.

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