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March KSA In Focus

KSA Mission Newsletter March 2017

The month’s issue provides an update on Saudi’s contribution to a new fund to protect cultural heritage from destruction by extremist groups, the situation in Yemen and Saudi Arabia’s appeal for peace in the country, the potential for greater cooperation between the EU and the Kingdom on counter-terrorism and HRH Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s promising visit to President Donald Trump in Washington.

La newsletter est également disponible en français: Focus Arabie Saoudite Mars 2017

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman led a senior Saudi delegation to China and Japan, as part of a trip that  included the kingdom’s participation at the G20 summit in Hangzhou.

In April, Prince Mohammed launched radical economic reforms designed to develop non-oil industries in Saudi Arabia and attract billions of dollars of foreign investment. Chinese and Japanese banks and companies are also expected to play major roles.

The prince first visited China for talks on economic ties as well as security issues, before visiting Japan and meeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Prince Mohammed then returned to China on 3 September to join the leaders of the world’s twenty biggest economies in the eastern city of Hangzhou. The event embodies an international forum bringing together governments and central bank governors and aims at studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman presents his economic reform plan to the G20, which envisages state spending of around 270 billion riyals (€65 billion) in the next five years on projects to diversify the economy. Saudi officials will discuss energy cooperation agreements with China and Japan, including a plan to cooperate with China in storing crude oil, the Saudi cabinet has said.

Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud made an official visit to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris last week.  The Deputy Crown Prince and the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, highlighted the need to support the restoration and conservation of cultural heritage damaged by conflicts, especially in Yemen.

The Deputy Crown Prince pledged support for the country’s recovery plans, notably for the restoration and conservation of cultural heritage, including three World Heritage sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Both also stressed the importance of renewed initiatives for citizenship education, intercultural dialogue at a time marked by extremism, intolerance and violence. The Director-General emphasized the imperative need to fight youth radicalization through quality education and invited Saudi Arabia to attend UNESCO’s second conference on the Internet and Youth Radicalization, which will take place in Quebec later this year.

The Director-General expressed appreciation of Saudi Arabia’s support to the Organization, notably the Kingdom’s contribution to strengthening the Organization’s Arabic language capacity and key UNESCO activities. She also highlighted the importance of Saudi heritage, to be promoted as a force for dialogue and mutual understanding. Saudi Arabia has four sites inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, ten sites included on its national Tentative List and considerations are under way to provide more focus on the protection of natural heritage in view of potential nominations and future inscriptions.

Following the meeting, the Kingdom’s Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Dr. Ziad Al-Driss has said the world body is committed to cooperating with the Kingdom to see it achieve the goals of its Saudi Vision 2030. Irina Bokova has reportedly praised the Saudi strategy, and affirmed that the organisation is ready to cooperate with the Kingdom in the fields pertaining to UNESCO, particularly those related to education, culture and human heritage, in order to help it realize the vision.

Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited the United States this month accompanied by a large delegation including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Energy, the Minister of Trade and Investment and the Minister of Culture and Information, as well as officials. The aim of the visit was to reinforce the historic and strategic relationship between the Kingdom and the US, and to exchange views and ideas on issues of the day, and on challenges that the two countries face in the region and in the world.

The Prince held a series of meetings with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, a bipartisan delegation of legislators from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as business leaders from the private sector.

The President and the Deputy Crown Prince discussed themes of  security cooperation and economic reform. President Obama expressed appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s contributions to the campaign against ISIL. On Syria, they reaffirmed the importance of supporting the cessation of hostilities and a political transition away from Assad. The President and Deputy Crown Prince also agreed to build support for Libya’s Government of National Accord.

With regard to Yemen, the President welcomed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to concluding a political settlement of the conflict and of GCC support to address urgent humanitarian needs and to rebuild the country.

The timing of the visit by the Deputy Crown Prince was significant because it follows the announcement of Saudi Vision 2030, an economic roadmap built around three primary themes: a vibrant society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation. President Obama commended the Deputy Crown Prince’s commitment to reforming Saudi Arabia’s economy and underscored strong US support for achieving the recently-announced Vision 2030 goals, reaffirming the strategic partnership between the US and Saudi Arabia.