From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, yesterday, met to reinvigorate the bilateral relations between both countries.
The development took place during a bilateral meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Araba, Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Bin Abdalla Al-Saud.
Speaking after the closed door session at the Tafawa Balewa House in Abuja, Onyeama said Saudi Arabia decided to really reinvigorate and strengthen relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.
“We have very strong relations between our two countries. They go back over a century and a large number of Nigerians have lived in Saudi Arabia and a lot of them, as His Excellency pointed out, have become Saudi citizens.
“Of course, we are two big countries, two big oil producing countries. So, our relations also span going to OPEC, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“But we are also very keen to diversify, two big countries looking to increase the level of trade between our two countries and hence, during the last visit of Mr President to Saudi Arabia, he agreed with the Crown Prince on the importance of setting up a business council, to bring Nigerian businessmen and Saudi businessmen and women, to explore areas of trade and business. And also to revitalise a framework that we already have for cooperation,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama also said that during the meeting, both countries discussed the issue of security, particularly the global challenge of terrorism and insurgency and non state actors destabilising countries around the world and the need for both countries to work together and address the challenge.
“We talked about the challenges in the West African sub-region, in North Africa and also in the Red Sea area.
“So, in identifying these security challenges, we talked about the possibilities in the trade and economic field, the so much that we can be doing,” Onyeama stated.
Onyeama further said both countries discussed cooperation at the multilateral level within the framework of international organisations like the United Nations and strengthening both countries’ solidarity in those areas, speaking together with one voice and pushing for reform of some of the agencies.
Onyeama added that Saudi Arabia and Nigeria appreciated the very close relations existing between both countries and felt that together, they can make a difference, not just in improving bilateral relations, but also influencing the global trajectory of events.
“So, we had really, I must say, excellent discussion with His Excellency and we feel that with the warm, personal relations between Mr President and the King and the Crown Prince, we have a very strong basis for our foundation for really launching a greater cooperation between our two countries,” Onyeama further said.
In his remarks, Al-Saud said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia feel passionately and think that the bonds of brotherhood and friendship that it had with Nigeria have to be extremely strong.
The Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister added that based on those bonds, both countries have many, many opportunities to cooperate and work together and to build a strong partnership.
“This is why I am happy to be here today in Nigeria to discuss with my colleague, His Excellency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, how to build on that relationship and how to strengthen those bonds and how to take this partnership to a much higher level,” the Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister said.