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Armenian, Saudi FMs Hold First-Ever Talks


Germany - Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan meet in Munich, February 19, 2022. (Photo by the Saudi Foreign Ministry)

Saudi Arabia signaled more overtures to Armenia as the foreign ministers of the two countries having no diplomatic relations met for the first time over the weekend.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan held talks on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference in Germany.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said they “reviewed bilateral relations in various fields of cooperation and ways to support and enhance them.” They also explored “opportunities to enhance bilateral coordination” and discussed “many regional and international issues,” it wrote on Twitter.

According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Mirzoyan discussed with Al Saud “prospects for establishing relations and cooperation” between their nations and expressed readiness to work on setting “bilateral and multilateral agendas.”

“During the meeting, the Foreign Ministers emphasized the importance of promoting trade and economic ties, implementing investment programs, and establishing contacts between business circles,” read a statement released by the ministry.

Saudi and Armenian foreign ministers are not known to have met in the past.

Saudi Arabia - Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman talks to Armenian President Armen Sarkissian during the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh, October 26, 2021.
Saudi Arabia - Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman talks to Armenian President Armen Sarkissian during the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh, October 26, 2021.

Saudi Arabia has for decades refused to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia due to its conflict with Muslim Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. The oil-rich kingdom signaled a change in that policy after its relations with Armenia’s arch-foe and Azerbaijan’s ally Turkey deteriorated significantly several years ago.

The policy change was highlighted last October by then Armenian President Armen Sarkissian’s visit to Riyad. Sarkissian sat next to Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, at the opening ceremony of an international conference held there.

“We spoke about our diplomatic relations, and we agreed that in reality our diplomatic relations started with that visit,” Sarkissian told the Saudi newspaper Arab News in December.

The Karabakh conflict has not prevented Armenia from developing relations with other Gulf Arab monarchies, notably the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Both nations have embassies in Yerevan.

Successive Armenian governments have maintained closer ties with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s main regional rival.

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