Saudi Arabia, South Korea to boost ties on energy, defense; deals worth $30bn signed

News Network
November 18, 2022

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Seoul, Nov 18: South Korean and Saudi Arabian leaders pledged stronger ties in the fields of energy, defense industry and building projects, as the Kingdom signed investment agreements worth $30 billion with South Korean companies, according to Reuters.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol told Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman he hoped the two nations can expand cooperation, calling the Kingdom a key partner for its economy and energy security.

Yoon held talks in Seoul with Prince Mohammed, who arrived on Thursday from Bali, Indonesia, where he had participated in a conference of the Group of 20 major economies.

Yoon hoped to see South Korean companies’ participation in projects such as the NEOM smart city project in Saudi Arabia and further cooperation in defense industry and future energy such as hydrogen, his office said in a statement.

Prince Mohammed noted the role of South Korean businesses over the years in the development of Saudi Arabia’s national infrastructure and wanted to see stronger cooperation with South Korea based on the trust built between the two countries.

“In particular, he said he would like to drastically strengthen cooperation with South Korea in the areas of defense industry, infrastructure and construction,” Yoon’s office said. 

The Saudi-Korean Joint Committee and the Saudi-Korean Vision 2030 includes as many as 40 projects and initiatives across the targeted sectors, according to an economic report issued by the Federation of Saudi Chambers.

The report also indicated steady growth in the volume of trade exchange between both countries which amounted to SR470 billion ($12.5 billion) over the past five years.

In 2021 alone, the volume of trade exchange hit SR100 billion, SR87 billion of which were exports to Korea and SR13 billion were Korean imports to the Kingdom.

Earlier, South Korea’s industry ministry said companies including Samsung C&T Corp. and POSCO Holdings Inc. had signed over 20 agreements with Saudi counterparts in fields such as energy cooperation, railways, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and gaming.

Saudi-based Asharq TV quoted the Kingdom’s investment minister as saying deals signed on Thursday were worth $30 billion. It also quoted the Saudi Venture Capital Company as saying it had agreed to establish seven specialized funds.

Among the agreements, Korea Electric Power Corp. and four other Korean firms signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to build and operate a hydrogen and ammonia production plant in the Kingdom, the company said.

The project will be worth about $6.5 billion, said a source with knowledge of the deal, who was not authorized to speak with media on the matter and declined to be named.

The plant is expected to produce 1.2 million tons of green hydrogen and ammonia annually, KEPCO said. It is to be built over 2025-2029 and operate for 20 years, the Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday, citing industry sources.

Another pact is Hyundai Rotem Co’s memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia to cooperate on a railway project for the Middle Eastern country’s $500 billion NEOM economic zone and smart city, the ministry said. It did not disclose the potential dollar amount of this agreement.

“The (South Korean) government will actively support the successful implementation of cooperative projects which apply Korea’s state-of-the-art architecture ... in NEOM,” said South Korea’s trade minister, Lee Chang-yang.

Hyundai Rotem shares rose 8.5 percent, versus a 1.1 percent drop in the wider market. Shares in Lotte Fine Chemical, which signed an agreement for chemical industry cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of Investment, rose 2.1 percent.

Also, S-Oil Corp, whose largest shareholder is Saudi Aramco, said it plans to invest a total of 9.3 trillion won ($7.0 billion) into its Ulsan factory to produce more high-value petrochemical products. 

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News Network
November 20,2022

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Bengaluru, Nov 20: In the midst of the Congress’s allegations of voter data theft, Chief Electoral Officer of Karnataka Manoj Kumar Meena said the inquiry was ordered following the apprehension of impersonation by an NGO during the ‘voter awareness drive’.

“The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commissioner had some information. We have the apprehension that there is impersonation and it has to be inquired. Ultimately, after the police investigation and our Divisional Commissioner inquiry, we will come to know what is there in it,” Meena told PTI.

The Congress in Karnataka has alleged that the Chilume Educational Cultural and Rural Development Institute (‘Chilume Trust’) hired many private people who were given fake identity cards impersonating Booth Level Officers (BLOs) of BBMP.

The opposition party alleged that the private trust, which was assigned by the Bengaluru civic agency to spread awareness among voters, collected details of the voters such as name, mother tongue, gender, religion, caste, voter ID number, and the Aadhaar number.

Meena declined to comment on the complaint by Congress with the State Election Commission regarding voter data theft. He said the reason behind the suspected impersonation will come out only after the probe.

“Let’s wait for the inquiry. If I comment on anything, it will compromise the inquiry. We will not say about the merit of the complaint. The regional commissioner is entrusted with the inquiry. Let the truth come out. Then we will take action as per the recommendation,” the CEO said.

The Congress alleged that the Chilume Trust also fed the information collected from voters into its private app. To a question whether his office would revisit the deletion of 6.73 lakh names from the electoral roll in Bengaluru following the "revelation", he said addition and deletion are a regular process and there was no need to revisit it again.

According to Meena, in the city, 6.73 lakh names were deleted and about three lakh new names added to the electoral roll. He added that the Election Commission of India carried out a major exercise to find out "photo-similar" entries in the electoral roll using software in the country. Using the software, 16 lakh entries were deleted from the electoral roll from across Karnataka including 6.73 lakh from Bengaluru after the verification by the BLOs.

According to him, about one crore such entries were deleted including around 15 lakh in Tamil Nadu and 14 lakh in Maharashtra. On the Congress' charge that the directors of the Chilume trust, which is in the middle of the controversy, have not been named in the FIR, Meena said the NGO has been mentioned in it, which itself means that those heading the organisations have been named.

The BBMP had given permission to the Chilume Trust to conduct 'Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP), a voter awareness drive by the Election Commission, in Karnataka, where Assembly elections are due next year.

BBMP said last week that the Trust violated the conditions of the permission and asked the public not to share any voter details with representatives of the NGO. 

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News Network
November 14,2022

Shivamogga, Nov 14: Two Hindutva activists reportedly assaulted a Muslim youth on Sunday at Gandhi circle in Bhadravathi town in Shivamogga district of Karnataka.

According to police, Harish and Goutham hurled a stone at Zaheer. Police have stated that there was a skirmish between them. 

In another incident, one Rizwan was stabbed on his hand by an unidentified persons in front of a general hospital in Bhadravathi. Bhadravathi police registered a case and the investigation is on.

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News Network
November 12,2022

New Delhi, Nov 12: Strong tremors were felt in Delhi and adjoining cities around 8 pm today, prompting many to rush out of their houses and offices. The severe tremors lasted for nearly 5 seconds and were reported from Noida and Gurugram as well.

This is the second time that tremors have been felt in the national capital region. On Tuesday night, strong tremors were felt in Delhi around 2 am after a 6.3 magnitude struck in Nepal. 

The depth of the earthquake was about 10 km, according to the National Center for Seismology. Six persons were killed and eight others injured in Nepal.

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