On 19-20 December, the State Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, Andrejs Pildegovičs, was on a visit in Saudi Arabia. The visit included the first political consultations between Latvia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During the consultations, the State Secretary and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, Nizar bin Obaid Madani, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of a regular format for consultations between the Foreign Ministries of both countries.
The meeting between State Secretary Pildegovičs and the Minister of State Madani addressed bilateral relations and opportunities for strengthening economic contacts. Andrejs Pildegovičs emphasised that Latvia wishes to facilitate broader cooperation in business and trade between companies from both countries.
The talks also dealt with issues of current international importance. The parties shared their views on prospects for the Middle East Peace Process and developments in Libya, Yemen, and Syria. In the context of international terrorism, both partners emphasised the need for a joint action by the international community in the fight against terrorism. Other topics discussed were latest events in the Baltic Sea region and relations with Russia.
As part of his visit, State Secretary Pildegovičs also met with Secretary General of the Council of Saudi Chambers, Saud Al-Mashari, for a discussion on the opportunities to expand economic cooperation. The parties expressed their interest in organising exchange visits for the delegations of chambers of commerce and businessmen. The Saudi side voiced special interest in Latvia’s offer in the ICT sector and expressed readiness to sign a memorandum on cooperation with the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The promotion of economic contacts with the Gulf States is one of Latvia’s priorities in its foreign economic cooperation policy. Saudi Arabia is currently among the largest trade partners to Latvia in the Gulf States. Grain – wheat and rye – has traditionally been one of Latvia’s main exports to Saudi Arabia. However, the structure of exports is growing more diverse: dairy, timber and mineral products are also being exported.
The State Secretary’s visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the first ever bilateral visit by a senior official from Latvia to that country since the establishment of diplomatic relations on 21 March 2003.
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