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Merkel meets Saudi king

27 May 2010 0:36

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has met with Saudi King Abdullah for talks ranging from bilateral ties to regional issues such as Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

Merkel, who has embarked on a four-stop visit to countries bordering the Persian Gulf, was received by the Saudi king’s half brother, Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, and other high-ranking Saudi officials in the Red Sea port of Jeddah on Wednesday following her visit to the United Arab Emirates.

Bernd Pfaffenbach, the state secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, said that the issues of Iran and the stalled Middle East peace process dominated Merkel’s talks with UAE President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, AFP reported.

“When we look at the regional situation and the situation of the UAE, we can see how strong the interest for a peaceful solution in the Near East is,” Merkel said on the second day of her visit that will also take her to Qatar and Bahrain.

“(Persian) Gulf countries, and in particular the UAE, play an important role in the peace process in the Middle East and, of course, in relation with Iran,” she added.

The West, led by the US, has been trying to trump up support for a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt its civilian uranium enrichment program, which is being rigorously monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The German chancellor is expected to discuss similar issues in talks with the Saudi king. However, many analysts in Germany have questioned the logic behind Markel’s decision to tour Persian Gulf countries at a time when Europe is embroiled in a deepening financial crisis against the backdrop of a weakening euro.

In Jeddah, Merkel first headed to the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology and later spoke to reporters at a press conference, where she said that Germany remains committed to a strong euro, AP reported.

Markel’s trips to the UAE and Saudi Arabia largely focused on boosting business and trade ties with Germany.

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