Dutch envoy set for key Riyadh talks

Dutch populist Geert Wilders talks to foreign journalists based in The Netherlands, a few days after kicking off his European election campaign in The Hague, Netherlands, in this May 14, 2014 photo. (AP)

Dutch populist Geert Wilders talks to foreign journalists based in The Netherlands, a few days after kicking off his European election campaign in The Hague, Netherlands, in this May 14, 2014 photo. (AP)

The Dutch government’s special envoy will arrive in Riyadh soon for high-level talks with Saudi offi- cials.

Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans has appointed the ministry’s director general for political affairs, Wim Geerts, as his government’s envoy to visit the Kingdom.

This was announced by Maurice Pourchez, first secretary for economic affairs at the Netherlands Embassy in Riyadh.

Geerts is a career diplomat attached to his country’s foreign service.

The talks are likely to focus on the Kingdom’s indirect sanctions on the European country after a far-right Dutch politician insulted Islam and Saudi Arabia

Pourchez, who is also the spokesman of the embassy, told Arab News that Geerts would arrive in Riyadh within the next few days to meet various Saudi officials over the crisis.

He said economic relations between the two countries have been growing. Trade between Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands stands at about SR31 billion with Saudi exports to the country at nearly SR20 billion.

“We have not received any official information about Saudi Arabia’s decision to slash trade ties,” Pourchez said, adding that his country would launch all-out efforts to improve relations.

“The incident took place about four months ago,” the official said about racist lawmaker Geert Wilders, who printed stickers insulting the Saudi flag and Islam.

About 30 Dutch companies operate in Saudi Arabia and many in the Netherlands have trade relations with the Kingdom.

The Council of Saudi Chambers said recently that it had received an order from the Saudi government banning Dutch firms from taking part in future projects in the Kingdom, directly and through subcontracting.

The order also reduces to a minimum the number of visas “for Dutch companies and investors who are not part of vital projects in the Kingdom.”

There is also a ban on trade delegations between the two countries.

 

 



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