Cook Islands to host visit by Saudi Arabia Minister for Tourism and Chair of the Saudi Fund for Development

Cook Islands to host visit by Saudi Arabia Minister for Tourism and Chair of the Saudi Fund for Development

Rarotonga, Cook Islands, 1 September 2023 - Saudi Arabia Minister for Tourism and Chair of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, will visit Rarotonga today as part of a mission through the Pacific to discuss future cooperation in infrastructure development, financial services, investment, transport links, education, tourism, and people-to-people links with the Cook Islands.

The Minister's delegation includes representatives from Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Tourism for International Affairs, the Saudi Embassy in Australia, and the SFD.

This week's visit by Minister Al Khateeb follows elevated engagements between the Cook Islands and the Saudi Arabia government since a first meeting led by Prime Minister the Honourable Mark Brown in Nadi, in the margins of the Pacific Islands Forum Special Leaders Retreat in February.

It also follows more recent discussions between Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (MFAI) Ms Tepaeru Herrmann and Saudi Arabia's Deputy Minister of Tourism for International Affairs, Sultan Al-Musallam last week, and meetings between Financial Secretary Mr Garth Henderson and a visiting delegation from the Saudi Fund for Development earlier this week.

"I'm delighted our Government is able to welcome Saudi Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb and his delegation to Rarotonga this week and hold further discussions on how we might together discuss future bilateral and multilateral cooperation," said Prime Minister Brown.

"I've been encouraged by the forthright manner in which the Government of Saudi Arabia has engaged with us since February and their preparedness to partner with us in a direct, tangible, and immediate way. It is a refreshing change from an international and regional financial framework that seems incapable of delivering on the climate finance promises of the Paris Agreement, to those of us bearing the brunt of climate change, and now exacerbated by COVID and the Russia-Ukraine crisis."

Discussions will also extend to existing and future multilateral cooperation between the two countries at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the International Maritime Organisation, and other fora where both countries are members.

The program of engagements for the visit is being coordinated by MFAI in partnership with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Management (MFEM) and Infrastructure Cook Islands (ICI). Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the Honourable Tingika Elikana, and Minister of Infrastructure, the Honourable Albert Nicholas, will co-host the delegation's visit on behalf of Prime Minister Brown.

Prime Minister Brown has accepted an invitation from Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, who is the current Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to attend the 43rd ASEAN Summit to convene in Jakarta next week. Prime Minister Brown will attend ASEAN as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum.