Flurry of diplo­matic ac­tiv­i­ties in Jed­dah


RIYADH: A flurry of diplo­matic ac­tiv­ity is sweep­ing the port city of Jed­dah, in­di­cat­ing the readi­ness of re­gional and in­ter­na­tional par­ties to re- en­gage in an at­tempt to re­solve is­sues and chal­lenges fac­ing the Mid­dle East.

Fed­er­ica Mogherini, for­eign pol­icy chief of the Euro­pean Union, on Mon­day ar­rived in Jed­dah, while Ital­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Paolo Gen­tiloni is due in the coastal city on Wed­nes­day.

Bangladesh Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina, who will fly to Jed­dah on Fri­day, will hold a sum­mit meet­ing with Cus­to­dian of the Two Holy Mosques King Sal­man next week. The visit of Sheikh Hasina is sig­nif­i­cant keeping in view of grow­ing Riyadh-Dhaka ties in the fields of man­power, in­vest­ment, ter­ror­ism, cul­ture and ed­u­ca­tion. Com­plete open­ing of the Saudi la­bor mar­ket to Bangladeshis will top the agenda of talks with the Bangladeshi pre­mier.

Re­fer­ring to the on­go­ing visit of EU for­eign pol­icy chief, Am­bas­sador Adam Ku­lach, head of the Riyadh-based EU Del­e­ga­tion, said that Mogherini will hold talks with high-rank­ing Saudi of­fi­cials in­clud­ing Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil (GCC) Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ab­dul­latif Al-Zayani on key re­gional is­sues. “The talks will also focus on how the EU can as­sist the King­dom in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Vi­sion 2030,” he added. The EU has had a re­gion-to-re­gion re­la­tion­ship with the mem­bers of the GCC.

On the other hand, the visit of Ital­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Gen­tiloni to Jed­dah and his talks this week with Saudi of­fi­cials will lend mo­men­tum to the whole po­lit­i­cal ex­er­cise that aims to solve re­gional is­sues, Luca Fer­rari, Ital­ian am­bas­sador, said here Mon­day.

Fer­rari said that “the con­sul­ta­tions be­tween Saudi of­fi­cials and the Ital­ian min­is­ter will cover a range of is­sues in­clud­ing Syria, Libya and Ye­men, as well as Vi­sion 2030 and the cri­sis in Europe and Italy be­cause of the ex­o­dus of a large num­ber of refugees from this re­gion.”

Jed­dah also wit­nessed the visit of Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond, who held talks with top Saudi of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing King Sal­man, and pledged all sup­port to the po­lit­i­cal process to solve con­flicts in the re­gion. He also of­fered UK ex­per­tise in im­ple­ment­ing the goals of Vi­sion 2030.

Speak­ing to news­men on Sun­day, Ham­mond said, “Bri­tain’s strong re­la­tions with the Gulf states en­able us to work to­gether on re­gional chal­lenges and shared threats that con­front us, whether from ex­trem­ism, ter­ror­ism or volatile eco­nomic con­di­tions.”

The visit of Ham­mond was pre­ceded by an­other of­fi­cial visit of South Korean Prime Min­is­ter Hwang Kyo-ahn to Jed­dah. Also, US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry vis­ited the port city in mid-May and held talks with Saudi of­fi­cials seek­ing to en­list their sup­port ahead of the crunch talks on the con­flicts in Syria and Libya. Riyadh has been a key sup­porter of the groups fight­ing to over­throw the Da­m­as­cus regime of Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad.

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