Australia strengthens Middle East relations

Media release

25 June 2012

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr visited the Sultanate of Oman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, strengthening Australia’s ties with the Middle East. 

Senator Carr’s visit to Oman was the first by an Australian Foreign Minister in at least two decades. 

Senator Carr’s discussions with his Omani hosts, including the Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, HE Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, covered a range of bilateral issues, including the potential for growth in our economic and education links. 

"Agriculture, aquaculture and mining were identified as areas for expanded commercial engagement," Senator Carr said.

"Oman is delivering a strong message that the nation is "open for business"."

Regional security issues, including piracy were also discussed. 

The Minister highlighted Australia’s ongoing support for regional counter-piracy efforts, reinforcing Australia interest in working with Oman to pursue a common approach on piracy among countries of the Indian Ocean rim.

Senator Carr also met Oman-based members of the Australian business community.

"I commend the recent establishment of an Australian Business Group in Oman as "a positive step" for bilateral commercial ties," Senator Carr said.

Senator Carr’s visit to Saudi Arabia reinforced Australia’s commitment to expanding our extensive ties with a country of major strategic importance to the global economy and to regional stability. 

Senator Carr and his Saudi counterpart HRH Prince Saud Al-Faisal also had a productive exchange on regional security developments, including the situation in Syria.

"Saudi Arabia is our second largest trading partner in the Gulf," Senator Carr said.

"Total bilateral trade was $1.9 billion in 2011.

"Saudi scholarship students studying in Australia under the King Abdullah Scholarship Program (around 11,000) make up the largest group of students from the Middle East."

Senator Carr visited the Sultanate of Oman from 9 to 11 June and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 11 to 13 June 2012.

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