High-level constructive visit to Bahrein and Saudi Arabia

From November 23 to 28, the Director General for Bilateral Affairs of Belgian Foreign Affairs visited the Kingdom of Bahrein and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In Bahrein, the 3rd cycle of bilateral political discussions, organized on the sidelines of the 15th IISS Manama Dialogue, allowed for an important exchange of views between Belgium and Bahrein on bilateral issues. Regional and international topics such as religious tolerance, the fight against terrorism, human rights issues and the present situation in the Middle East region were also discussed.

In Saudi Arabia, Director General Anick Van Calster led a Belgian delegation composed of representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis and the Ministry of Justice. This mission followed on a first Belgian multidisciplinary mission organized in November 2017. Both follow up on a parliamentary resolution passed on June 8, 2017 focused on reconsidering Belgium’s foreign policy towards the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During the various high-level encounters, themes linked to radicalization and human rights formed the core of the discussions. The delegation took every chance to reiterate Belgium’s will of openly pursuing these discussions with Saudi authorities. 

The encounter between Director General Anick Van Calster and the Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Adel Al-Jubeir, formed an opportunity to bring up the situation in the Middle East region. During the meeting with the Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mohammed Al-Hadhrami, the humanitarian and economic situation in Yemen was discussed together with the need to implement an inclusive political solution for the country and Belgium’s role in the United Nations Security Council.

Finally, Belgium’s subjects of concern (transparency of financial flows, human rights) were openly discussed with other high-level authorities such as the Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance, the Commission on Human Rights, the Vice-president of the Consultative Saudi Council, the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology - Ethidal, the Prince Saud Al-Faisal Diplomatic Institute, the National Family Safety Program, the National Society for Human Rights, the Presidency of State Security, the Prince Nayef Center for Counseling and Care and the Al Nahda Foundation.

This mission allowed for constructive exchanges of views between our two countries and stressed our common interest to reinforce our bilateral relations in various fields.