Vienna, 12 October 2011 Press release

Spindelegger: “Putting bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Austria on solid ground”

Foreign Minister Spindelegger and the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister sign a Memorandum of Understanding in Vienna

Vienna, 12 October 2011 – In the run-up to the signing of the Founding Agreement of the International King Abdullah Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue this coming Thursday, which will also be attended by the Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jiménez, Vice-Chancellor, Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger met his Saudi Arabian counterpart, Prince Saud Al Faisal in Vienna today.

Today’s meeting revolved around the signing of a memorandum of understanding about taking up political consultations between the foreign ministries of the two states: “The bilateral relations of our two countries in political, cultural and economic terms are good and resilient. By signing the memorandum of understanding today we aim to strengthen our relations even further in future”, Spindelegger said and referred – among others – to the establishment of the King Abdullah Centre, a joint initiative of Saudi Arabia, Spain and Austria. The Centre will be located in Vienna and offer a permanent platform for the dialogue of cultures and religions.

One of the topics on the agenda of the meeting was Iran: “With its nuclear programme, Iran poses a threat to the stability of the entire region. Media reports about an alleged attack plan in Washington show once again how enormous the tensions are. A lasting easing of the tension will only be achieved through negotiations if Iran finally meets the international community’s demand for restoring trust in its nuclear programme”, Spindelegger said.

Another topic of discussion was the business relations between the two countries: “Saudi Arabia has emerged from the world-wide economic and financial crisis with no problems and is the most important trading partner of Austria in the Middle East. The value of bilateral trade amounted to 489 million euros in the first six months of this year alone, already exceeding the value of the whole of last year.”

The minister referred at the meeting to the fact that Austria and Saudi Arabia pursue fundamentally different approaches with regard to certain aspects of human rights. “It is, however, a token of the quality of our cooperation if topics such as the death penalty or women’s rights can be frankly discussed”, Spindelegger said.

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