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German Chancellor visits Saudi Arabia

Chancellor Schröder in Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, was the first stop on Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's current one-week tour of the Gulf states. On February 28 he continued on to Kuwait and by Saturday, March 5, will have visited a total of seven countries in the region. He is being accompanied by a seventy-member industrial delegation.

After his arrival in Riyadh on Sunday, February 27, Schröder had an initial meeting with Crown Prince Abdullah, followed by an audience with King Fahd. In the evening he opened an exhibition marking the 75th anniversary of the German-Saudi Friendship Treaty.

On February 28 Schröder spoke at a German-Saudi business forum. In this context he noted that Germany has a close and confidence-based partnership with Saudi Arabia, politically and economically the most influential country on the Arabian Peninsula, adding that "it is our firm intention to continue to develop this partnership."

Schröder agreed regular political consultations with the Saudi government with a view to making better use of the considerable potentials that exist for economic cooperation. Academic exchange is also to be intensified.

Peace and stability for the Middle East

Speaking before an audience of German and Saudi business representatives Schröder welcomed the positive developments being seen in the Middle East peace process, where, for the first time in a long time, there is a realistic chance of being able to return to the process of attempting to achieve a negotiated political solution.

He went on to say that the situation in Iraq makes it possible to look ahead to the future with cautious optimism there as well, noting that the national assembly election held in January was an important step forward on the road towards democratization of the country. He added that in order to achieve a peaceful and stable situation in Iraq it will be necessary to undertake systematic efforts aimed at enabling Iraqis to make use of their country's own considerable wealth-generating potentials for purposes of reconstruction.

Dynamic development of economic cooperation

Chancellor Schröder and his delegation flew on to Kuwait Monday afternoon. His agenda there includes the launch of Arab-language programming by 'Deutsche Welle' television aimed at promoting intercultural dialogue.

At the end of the week Schröder will be in the United Arab Emirates where he will be briefed by German experts on the status of training of Iraqi military security and police personnel.

In addition to meetings with heads of state and government the tour is strongly focused on economic cooperation. Germany's trade relations with the countries of the Gulf region have shown dynamic growth in recent years. A number of intergovernmental and commercial agreements are scheduled to be signed in the course of the week.

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