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, tourism, 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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