South Korea’s leader arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, where he was greeted in Riyadh by the kingdom’s crown prince and an honor guard marching band.
It was the second stop on a Mideast tour by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his wife, who were greeted on the tarmac by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. All were masked and President Moon did not shake hands with the prince, in line with coronavirus social distancing practices.
It is the latest visit by a head of state to Saudi Arabia as a growing number of world leaders resume bilateral meetings and trips abroad following COVID-19 vaccine rollouts in many parts of the world.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman has largely taken over day-to-day rule of Saudi Arabia from his father, King Salman. It was unclear whether President Moon would also meet King Salman, who has only made limited public appearances since the outbreak of the virus globally in March 2020.
President Moon’s stop in Saudi Arabia came after his visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he reportedly reached a preliminary $3.5 billion deal to sell Seoul’s surface-to-air missiles to Abu Dhabi and pledged deeper cooperation with the Arab country.
The oil and gas-dependent South Korea imports fossil fuels from the Persian Gulf to power its energy-intensive economy, dominated by manufacturing industries from cars to petrochemicals.
The South Korean leader is scheduled to visit Egypt next.