Crises in the Middle East – using opportunities for de-escalation
Following the latest severe fighting in Yemen, and in view of the catastrophic humanitarian situation, Foreign Minister Maas urgently called for military de-escalation. He said that the resumption of direct talks with the Houthi rebels was a step in the right direction, but that a return to UN‑led political talks was also needed.
With regard to the continued political isolation of the neighbouring emirate of Qatar, Maas underlined the cautious signs of détente, which he said should be fostered. For the first time since the start of the crisis, Qatar was represented at the political level again at the 40th Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh on 10 December 2019.
Saudi Arabia can also play a crucial de-escalating role in the conflict with Iran, the Middle East peace process and efforts to solve the conflict in Libya.
Progress on Vision 2030
Under the Vision 2030 concept, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz aims to modernise the largest economy in the Gulf through investments worth hundreds of billions and to make it fit for the post-oil era. Foreign Minister Maas paid tribute to the progress made in implementing the economic reforms and also encouraged the country to open up further.
Human rights situation
Foreign Minister Maas raised the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia with his counterpart:
We expressly recognise Saudi Arabia’s steps towards modernisation. At the same time, we firmly believe that this course will primarily succeed if social ownership and the role of human rights develop in the same way. We encourage Saudi Arabia to take these steps and stand ready to provide support.