Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) met with his Saudi Arabian counterpart Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh on Wednesday, where the two discussed opportunities to strengthen bilateral Estonian-Saudi Arabian relations as well as the situation in the region.
According to Mikser, relations between the two countries have been positive but modest thus far, and he and his colleague identified various areas in which the two countries could strengthen relations, according to a ministry press release.
"A number of Estonian companies already operate in Saudi Arabia, but interest in the country and the region as a whole could be significantly greater," he noted.
The foreign ministers agreed that political consultations between the two countries' respective foreign ministries should take place on a regular basis. Mikser also welcomed Saudi Arabia's decision to appoint a non-resident ambassador to Estonia.
Al-Jubeir confirmed that Saudi Arabia is interested in technological innovation and economic diversification, and the Estonian minister noted that Estonia as an innovative country could share its e-governance expertise with the former. The two likewise discussed cybersecurity.
The foreign ministers also talked about the situation in the region, including in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq and the Sahel region. "Stability and peace in the Middle East is a major objective for the region, Europe and the entire world," Mikser emphasized. "Whether it is the Syrian conflict or the Middle East peace process, a lasting political solution must be sought," he added.
Also discussed at Wednesday's meeting was the U.S.' recent decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Mikser and al-Jubeir agreed that the impact of this decision needs to be analyzed, and that much depends on Iran's future activities. "What is important is to make sure not to lose sight of the main goal of diplomatic efforts made thus far — an Iran free of nuclear weapons," the Estonian minister stressed.
Mikser also introduced his colleague to the Estonian campaign for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2020-2021.
Mikser was the first Estonian foreign minister to visit Saudi Arabia.
Editor: Aili Vahtla