Former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing held talks here Sunday, January 21, with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz on the Middle East peace process and prospects for investment in the oil-rich Gulf kingdom.
Giscard d'Estaing, who is taking part in an economic forum in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, told AFP that the crown prince called for "more active EU participation" in the Arab-Israeli peace process.
Saudi Arabia "regretted" that former US president Bill Clinton had been unable to strike a peace settlement between Israel and Palestinians but it looked "favorably" to the new administration of his successor, George W. Bush, he said.
The former head of state said he and Crown Prince Abdullah also reviewed the new economic policies of Saudi Arabia and its efforts to attract foreign investments and boost the private sector. In a speech at the Jeddah forum on Saturday, he urged Gulf Arab states to press ahead with their planned financial union through the abolition of all trade barriers, through monetary union and then a single currency.
"The Arab world has a great advantage over the EU in that it already has cultural and linguistic unity," he said. "It would be much easier for the Middle East to become a unified economic power than has been Europe's experience."
Crown Prince Abdullah, an advocate of economic reforms and liberalization, heads a Supreme Economic Council set up in August 1999. A package of legal reforms were announced last year to allow foreign investors to own property, and amend the system of local sponsorship for foreigners doing business in Saudi Arabia. —(AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
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