Schroder visit to boost German engagement in ME diplomacy

Tue, 2016-12-27
RIYADH: As part of a plan to boost German engagement in the Middle East, top German politician Gerhard Schroder, a former chancellor, will visit several countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, on Jan. 15.
Schroder will visit the Kingdom in the capacity of the chairman of the German Near and Middle East Association (NUMOV) to strengthen German ties with its allies in the region.
“The visit of Schroder will boost links with the Kingdom, which is a crucial partner of Germany, besides being an important player in this region,” said German Ambassador Dieter Haller, on Sunday. “Our close coordination in bilateral fields, as well as at multilateral fora as two G-20 members, has been very intense,” said the envoy, adding that common challenges, especially in the region, need a coordinated response.
He said that the Kingdom and Germany have been working closely to boost “peace efforts.” He said that security cooperation and commercial engagements are the major components of Saudi-German relations. Germany currently holds the rotating presidency of G-20, hence the commercial partnership between the two countries demands broader cooperation and content.
Referring to the three-day visit of the former German chancellor, Dieter said that “his interaction with Saudi officials will be in the context of the efforts made by NUMOV to boost relations with Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia.”
He said that NUMOV, founded in 1934, is Germany’s oldest and largest nonprofit and independent service provider for the Near and Middle East region. The diplomat said that that NUMOV supports bilateral business activities between Germany and the Arab countries, together with Afghanistan, Cyprus, Pakistan and Turkey.
Referring to the progressively growing relations between Riyadh and Berlin, Ambassador Haller said that the ties between the two countries are solid, vibrant and expanding.
In addition to the numerous visits by both countries’ heads of state, four visits by the foreign ministers of the two countries in less than a year between August 2015 and last May speak volumes about the excellent relations, he added.
He said that Germany is more than willing to support Saudi Arabia in its ambitious Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program. German companies have outstanding experiences in fields like renewable energy, smart city management, water and sanitation and the privatization of the health sector. On the trade front, the two countries have forged closer ties.
The years 2014 and 2015 have been the most successful years for German-Saudi trade so far, with a trade volume of $12 billion reported in 2015. “The figures for the first half of 2016 show an interruption of this trend, but I am sure we will see further growth in the future,” said the envoy.
There are nearly 1,500 Saudi students enrolled in German universities. From all across GCC countries, about 2,300 students are studying in Germany.
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