Klaus Kleinfeld named adviser to Saudi crown prince, NEOM appoints new CEO

Klaus Kleinfeld had started to lay foundation to the realization of NEOM in June 2017. (SPA/File)
Updated 03 July 2018

Klaus Kleinfeld named adviser to Saudi crown prince, NEOM appoints new CEO

  • Kleinfeld is set to begin his role in August
  • Nadhmi Al-Nasr will take over from Kleinfeld as NEOM CEO

JEDDAH: Klaus Kleinfeld, who was tasked with developing the NEOM project in northern Saudi Arabia, has been appointed as an adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom announced.

Kleinfeld “will take over wider responsibilities to enhance the economic, technological and financial development of Saudi Arabia,” said a statement.

The German, who is former chairman and CEO of Alcoa Inc., and former president and CEO of Siemens AG, is set to begin his role on August 1, 2018, with new NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr taking the helm of the ambitious Saudi project on the same day.

Al-Nasr, who has over 30 plus years of experience with Saudi Aramco and most recently has been the Interim President for King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), had worked on developing the strategy and development of NEOM Bay, one of the initial stages of NEOM’s development.  

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, left, will replace Klaus Kleinfeld as CEO of NEOM in August

The Kingdom, in October 2017, announced plans to build the $500 billion mega city on the Kingdom’s Red Sea coast, as part of a huge national push to diversify its economy.

“The focus on these sectors will stimulate economic growth and diversification by nurturing international innovation and manufacturing, to drive local industry, job creation, and GDP growth in the Kingdom,” said Prince Mohammed, who is also the chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF).

“Klaus Kleinfeld had started to lay foundation to the realization of NEOM in June 2017. He built up a team of world class project people and developed – together with the founding board of NEOM — the strategy, the face and the future appearance of NEOM,” the statement said.

General Bajwa assures “continued efforts” for peace in Afghanistan

Updated 18 January 2019

General Bajwa assures “continued efforts” for peace in Afghanistan

  • US special envoy holds talks with Pakistan’s Army Chief and foreign secretary
  • President Ghani calls PM Khan to discuss recent developments in the initiative

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army’s top commander, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, assured US’ special representative Zalmay Khalilzad on Thursday that Pakistan would continue with its “efforts for bringing peace and stability in the region.”
General Bajwa “reiterated that peace in Afghanistan is important for Pakistan,” a statement released by the military’s media wing, the ISPR, read.
Khalilzad and General Austin Scott Miller, Commander Resolute Support Mission, met General Bajwa in Rawalpindi on Thursday and discussed the regional security environment and measures for Afghan peace and reconciliation.
“The delegation appreciated Pakistan’s efforts toward the peace process,” the statement added.
Lisa Curtis, Deputy Assistant to the US President and senior director for South and Central Asia, along with the US charge d’ affairs to Pakistan were also present in the meeting.
Hours before the talks took place between the US delegation and General Bajwa, Prime Minister Imran Khan had assured Afghan President Ashraf Ghani of his government’s “sincere efforts” to help Kabul and the United States reach a negotiated settlement to end the war in Afghanistan which is stretching into its 18th year. 
President Ghani called PM Khan on Thursday to discuss the recent efforts made in the peace process, a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office in Islamabad read. 
“Prime Minister Imran Khan assured President Ghani that Pakistan was making sincere efforts for a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan through an inclusive peace process, as part of shared responsibility,” it added. 
Ghani also expressed gratitude for Pakistan’s sincere facilitation of efforts initiated by Khalilzad.
Khan’s statement comes as the Taliban have threatened to pull out of peace talks with the US if they deflect from resolving the issue of foreign forces withdrawal from Afghanistan, a key demand of the hard-line Islamist insurgency. 
There has been a flurry of meetings between the US and the Afghan Taliban in recent months to find a negotiated settlement between the insurgents and the Kabul government. So far, the Taliban have refused to engage in direct talks with the Afghan government, which is a major impediment to the success of the peace initiative.
The dialogue between the US and Taliban has stalled since their last meeting in Abu Dhabi in December. 
Earlier, Khalilzad had held delegation-level talks with foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua at the Foreign Office in Islamabad.
About Khalilzad’s meetings on Thursday, the foreign office said in a statement: “The two sides reviewed developments post-Abu Dhabi, in order to take Afghan peace process forward,” in a reference to recent talks held in the United Arab Emirates. 
Senior US official Lisa Curtis also arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday for talks on how to revive the stalled Afghan peace process. No details of her meetings were available from Pakistani or US officials but it is believed that she discussed the prospects of bringing the Taliban to the table for talks, among other bilateral issues.
Earlier in the day, the spokesman told a weekly press briefing that the solution of the Afghan conflict “lies in an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.”
“We believe that an intra-Afghan dialogue will lead to bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that Pakistan was extending “every possible support” for a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict.
Faisal said that Pakistan had facilitated direct talks between the US and the Taliban and “desire[d] to see Afghan officials and Taliban sit together as intra-Afghan dialogue is crucial for success and sustainability of the peace process.”
Rahimullah Yousufzai, expert on Taliban affairs, said the United States had been pursuing Pakistan and other countries, including Saudi Arabia and China, to use their influence over the Taliban to broker a cease-fire in Afghanistan.
“Taliban have shown their mind through a recent statement that they aren’t willing to revive talks with the US until a schedule of withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan is given to them,” he told Arab News.
Yousufzai said that Taliban have gained importance and international recognition for their recent talks with the US and “they would not easily budge from their demand.”