Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

4 May 2009

Visit to Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia


Today I continue my visit to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  This is the second day of my visit to the Kingdom.

Yesterday in Riyadh, I met with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques HM King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, the Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Interior HRH Prince Naif bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, and the Foreign Minister HRH Prince Saud Al-Faisal.

We discussed ways to enhance the relationship between Australia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through increased cooperation in trade and investment, education links and counter-terrorism. 

We agreed on the importance of intensified dialogue and cooperation to address regional and international security challenges, including between Australia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

We also agreed to more frequent high-level visits.  Mine is the first visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by an Australian Foreign Minister since 2003.

Today in Riyadh I will meet with GCC Secretary-General HE Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al-Attiyah to discuss the formalisation of a Ministerial-level dialogue between Australia and GCC countries. 

I will also meet with Minister for Commerce and Industry HE Mr Zainal Alireza to discuss negotiations towards an Australia-GCC Free Trade Agreement.  

Today I travel to Jeddah.   Jeddah is the commercial hub of Saudi Arabia, and has the Kingdom's largest port. The port in Jeddah receives the majority of Australian goods that arrive in the Kingdom, including passenger motor vehicles, grain and sheep.

There are approximately 1,000 Australians living in Jeddah.  Several thousand Muslim Australians also arrive in Jeddah each year before travelling to Mecca for the Hajj or Umra pilgrimages.

This afternoon I will also meet Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which has its headquarters in Jeddah.  The OIC is the world's second largest international organisation after the United Nations, and represents 57 nations.  Professor Ihsanoglu and I will discuss ways of improving links between Australia and the OIC.

I will also visit the showroom of Mr Abdul Lateef Jamil, the largest importer of Australian-made automobiles in the Middle East.

This follows on from my discussions yesterday with Chairman and CEO of Kingdom Holdings HRH Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud on the trade and investment relationship between Australia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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