NATO Secretary General Pays Historic Visit to Saudi Arabia

14.12.2023 Asia
NATO Secretary General Pays Historic Visit to Saudi Arabia

NATO Secretary General Pays Historic Visit to Saudi Arabia

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg set out his vision for deeper cooperation between NATO and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a historic visit to Riyadh - the first ever by a sitting Secretary General of NATO.

During his visit, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg spoke with the Saudi Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia, His Royal Highness Prince Khalid bin Salman Al Saud, welcoming the development of closer ties between NATO and the Kingdom.

In a phone call, the Secretary General thanked His Royal Highness for Saudi Arabia’s hospitality. He further underlined the Kingdom’s leading role in the Arab and Muslim world, and said he looked forward to the possibility of developing dialogue and cooperation in areas like maritime security and freedom of navigation, the protection of critical infrastructure, and the fight against terrorism.

His Royal Highness accepted an invitation from Mr. Stoltenberg to visit NATO Headquarters in Brussels in early 2024, NATO said in a statement.

While in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Stoltenberg met with Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed A. Elkhereiji and the Chairman of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Air Chief Marshal Fayyadh al-Ruwaili.

On Tuesday, Mr. Stoltenberg met with Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed A. Elkhereiji, thanking him for Saudi Arabia’s hospitality and underlining his desire to strengthen ties between NATO and the Kingdom.

The Secretary General also held talks with the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Jasem Mohamed AlBudaiwi.

“Dialogue with our partners is deeply important to NATO, and we value our relationship with the GCC,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, Mr. Stoltenberg visited the headquarters of Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), where he discussed industrial production and potential future avenues for cooperation with Chief Executive Officer Walid Abukhaled (photo).

Later in the day, he exchanged views with a group of policy makers, think tank experts and media in a meeting hosted by Dr. Abdulaziz Sager, Chairman of the Gulf Research Centre.

In a public discussion at the Saudi Armed Forces Command and Staff College on Wednesday, Mr. Stoltenberg underlined Saudi Arabia’s leading role in the Arab and Muslim world, and identified areas where the Alliance and the Kingdom could do more together.

“I believe there is huge potential for NATO to do more with Saudi Arabia because we have mutual challenges,” said the Secretary General, pointing to issues including Iran’s destabilising influence in the region, as well as climate change.

The Secretary General recently appointed a group of external experts to review NATO’s approach to the Gulf, the Middle East, and Africa, calling this an opportunity to explore new avenues of cooperation. (Photo: NATO Secretary General at SAMI’s Headquarters © NATO)

 



 
 

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