Media Release

Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia


22 March 1996

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador To Saudi Arabia

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Philip Knight as Australian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with non-resident accreditation to other countries of the Peninsula.

Mr Knight will replace Mr Warwick Weemaes, who has been Ambassador since September 1993.

The Arabian Peninsula is a region of fundamental interest to the Australian Government and to Australian business. Australia enjoys a warm relationship with Saudi Arabia, as well as the other countries of the Peninsula. Australia's political and strategic interests in Saudi Arabia are becoming more diverse, reflecting the developments occurring in the Middle East over the last decade.

Advancing Australia' s bilateral commercial interests in the Arabian Peninsula is an important objective. More than 58 percent of Australian exports to the Middle East in 1994-95 were directed to the Peninsula. Saudi Arabia is currently the second largest export market for Australia in the Middle East. Agricultural commodity exports predominate in Australian exports to Saudi Arabia and the other countries of the Peninsula but these countries are also expanding markets for exports of Australian manufactures, technology and services.

Mr Knight, a senior career officer, joined the then Department of External Affairs in 1963. He has had overseas postings in Brussels, Saigon, Bangkok, Moscow and Jakarta. He was Ambassador to Vietnam (1979-81), High Commissioner to Brunei (1988-92), and he has been High Commissioner to Pakistan since 1992.

Mr Knight is expected to take up his appointment in mid April 1996.

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