Germany, Saudi Arabia Sign Six Major Economic Agreements During Merkel Visit

Published May 1st, 2017 - 12:27 GMT
A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) chatting with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman (R) during a welcome ceremony in Riyadh on April 30, 2017. (AFP/ Bandar Al-Jaloud)
A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) chatting with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman (R) during a welcome ceremony in Riyadh on April 30, 2017. (AFP/ Bandar Al-Jaloud)

A range of bilateral and regional issues, with a particular focus on Syria, Iran and Yemen, were discussed by Saudi King Salman and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on Sunday. The King and the Chancellor also witnessed the signing of six major economic agreements.

Read more: Merkel In Saudi Arabia: Talks On Brutal War In Yemen, Daesh And Global Warming

Merkel said she and Saudi leaders discussed the country's capital punishment policy and its role in Yemen's civil war. Michael Ohnmacht, deputy chief of Germany's mission to Saudi Arabia, said late Sunday that Merkel's talks with King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also included Syria, the global war on terror and the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg.

The visit was also an opportunity for Merkel to reinforce German-Saudi business relations. She met with Saudi women in business, later saying that "I have the impression that the country is in a phase of change and that a lot more is possible now than some years ago, but it's still a long way away from having achieved what we would understand as equality," the British news website The Independent reported.

Read more: Declining Oil Prices Pressure Middle East's Economic Growth: Report

Merkel signed six major economic agreements reinforcing the trade relationship with Saudi Arabia, one of Germany's leading trade partners in the Middle East. They involved Germany's training of Saudi security officers, cooperation between the two countries on projects in western Africa and the involvement of the German engineering company Siemens and the software company SAP in "Vision 2030," Saudi Arabia's plan for economic diversification and reduction of its reliance on oil revenues.

Merkel is scheduled to travel to Abu Dhabi on Monday. In meetings with Saudi leaders, she did not adhere to the traditional dress code for women, which includes a head scarf. She is the latest in a series of female Western leaders, which includes British Prime Minister Theresa May, Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, to forego the protocol.

By Ed Adamczyk


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