Cook Islands and Saudi Arabia focus on future areas for cooperation

Cook Islands and Saudi Arabia focus on future areas for cooperation

Rarotonga, Cook Islands, 24 August 2023 - Cook Islands and Saudi Arabia government officials continue to focus on a forward program of cooperation through diplomatic and development channels.

Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) Tepaeru Herrmann met virtually with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Deputy Minister of Tourism for International Affairs Sultan Al-Musallam last week, in a follow-up discussion to an earlier meeting held in July.

This afternoon, a delegation from the Saudi Development Fund (SDF) will arrive in Rarotonga to follow-up on discussions held with Secretary of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) Garth Henderson in Rarotonga in May, on possible infrastructure projects for cooperation.

The Cook Islands and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia formalised diplomatic relations in April this year through the signing of a Joint Communique. Since then, discussions have focused on infrastructure development, financial services, investment, green technology, oceans and seabed minerals development, transport links, education, tourism, and people-to-people links as key areas for future bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation.

"We have for several years collaborated effectively with Saudi Arabia in the multi-lateral space such as at UNESCO, where Saudi Arabia have been supportive of Cook Islands' leadership in elevating Smaller Islands Developing States (SIDS) priorities, and at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), where the Cook Islands have long held that the transition to cleaner shipping cannot come at the cost of SIDS like the Cook Islands who are at the end of the shipping supply chain, and face the highest shipping costs in the world," said Secretary Herrmann.

"Our engagements with Saudi Arabia this year offers the Cook Islands a pragmatic and responsive partnership. In our discussions in recent months, Saudi Arabia have been attuned to the acute vulnerabilities that Pacific SIDS, like the Cook Islands, are confronted with. But more importantly, they have demonstrated the wherewithal to calibrate their support without further exacerbating the financial scarring and catastrophic impact of COVID, climate change, and the Russia-Ukraine crisis has had on the Cook Islands."

MFAI are preparing for a visit next month by His Excellency, Saudi Arabia Minister of Tourism, and Chair of the Saudi Development Fund Ahmed Al Khateeb and his delegation.