Saudi to host top Arab, EU diplomats for Gaza talks

Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud attends a session during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, January 16, 2024. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP)
Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud attends a session during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, January 16, 2024. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP)

Top Arab and European diplomats are expected to begin arriving in the Saudi capital this weekend for an economic summit and meetings on the war in Gaza, diplomatic officials say.

The two-day World Economic Forum special meeting, scheduled to begin in Riyadh on Sunday, includes in its official program appearances by the Saudi, Jordanian, Egyptian and Turkish foreign ministers.

A Gaza-focused session on Monday is set to feature newly appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Sigrid Kaag, the United Nations aid coordinator for Gaza.

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne is among the European officials traveling to the Saudi capital during the summit for talks on the war, which erupted with Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel.

“Discussions with European, American and regional counterparts on Gaza and the regional situation are planned in Riyadh,” a diplomatic source says.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is due to arrive on Monday to meet officials including Kaag and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, says spokesperson Sebastian Fischer.

“The visit will be about working on the many different flashpoints of the crisis in the Middle East, on de-escalation and on making progress towards a peaceful future,” Fischer tells a press conference in Berlin on Friday.

“As you all know, the Gulf states also have an important role to play here.”

Saudi Arabia’s neighbor Qatar hosts a Hamas political office and has served as a mediator in talks that have so far failed to secure a durable ceasefire and the release of many hostages seized in the October 7 attack.

Saudi Arabia has never recognized Israel, but before the Hamas attack US President Joe Biden’s administration was hoping it would do so as part of a landmark deal that would also see Riyadh and Washington ramp up their security partnership.

Most Popular