RIYADH: A flurry of diplomatic activity will be witnessed by the Kingdom during the next few weeks, indicating the readiness of regional and international parties to re-engage with Riyadh in an attempt to resolve issues and challenges facing the Middle East.
The busy schedule began late Saturday night with the arrival of Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven in the Saudi capital.
“The Swedish premier’s visit is extremely important as he is scheduled to hold wide-ranging talks with high-ranking Saudi officials on a range of bilateral, regional and international affairs,” said Jan Knutsson, Swedish ambassador.
“The talks will also focus on potential areas of Saudi-Swedish cooperation within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030,” added the diplomat. Swedish Prime Minister Lofven will also meet Saudi business representatives. The visit has added significance as Sweden takes its seat on the UN Security Council on Jan. 1, 2017 with Syria at the top of the agenda. Moreover, the Saudi-Swedish consultations will be significant for defusing the Syrian crisis as Saudi Arabia is an important political and economic player in the region.
The visit of the Swedish premier will be followed by a trip by Nicolas Maduro, Venezuelan president, to Riyadh on Sunday.
A Venezuelan diplomat said that “the president will arrive here on Sunday.” Maduro paid a visit to Iran as part of his tour of various oil-producing countries to help stabilize the international oil market and to align petroleum policies. Maduro’s visit will provide an opportunity for consultations on bilateral, regional and international issues of common concern.
Asked about the visit of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayen to Riyadh, Kazakh Ambassador Bakyt Batyrshayev said that the president will be arriving in Riyadh on Tuesday. President Nazarbayev will be accompanied by a large delegation comprising high-ranking officials and businessmen. Batyrshavey said that Kazakhstan sees Saudi Arabia as “an important political and economic partner in the Middle East and the entire Islamic world, and is interested in developing dialogue in all realms.”
In a major push in oil diplomacy, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak is set to meet his Saudi counterpart here on Sunday. A report published by the Russian news agency TASS said that Novak plans to discuss joint scientific research projects, the issue of investments in the fuel and energy sectors of Russia and Saudi Arabia, including oil production, power engineering, renewable energy sources and other projects of common interest.
Last week, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said he planned to meet Novak to discuss an agreement among oil producers to cap production in a renewed move to stabilize oil prices. At the end of last month, OPEC producers had extensive discussions and agreed on preliminary proposals around a deal that would limit production to a range of between 32.5 million and 33 million barrels per day.

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