RIYADH: A senior Argentine diplomat on Wednesday welcomed the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, expressing his country’s willingness to work closely with Saudi Arabia to maintain momentum in bilateral ties.
Marcelo Gilardoni, the Argentine ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said the two countries have forged closer ties in different sectors. “Our countries have been working closely on increasing bilateral cooperation in different areas such as trade, investment, agriculture, tourism, research and education,” he added.
After a tour that stopped in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Cairo and Tunis, the Crown Prince arrived in Argentina on Wednesday to attend the summit of G20 leaders, which will be opened by Argentine President Mauricio Macri on Friday.
Diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Argentina were established back in 1946, Gilardoni pointed out. “Since then, there have been several exchanges of official and state visits, as the ones made to Riyadh by president Raul Alfonsin in 1986 and president Carlos Saul Menem in 1992.
“The then Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz visited Buenos Aires in 2000 on the occasion of the inauguration of the King Fahd Islamic Cultural Center.”
The envoy spoke about preparations for the summit made by Argentina during its presidency, which began on December 1, 2017. “Since then Argentina held 50 meetings on different governmental levels on 15 different topics … Being Argentina, a federal republic, all the different encounters have been held all over the country, in different cities from north to south, east to west, in order to show Argentina to the world.”
Asked about the agenda of the G20 summit, Gilardoni said that “the G20 presidency of Argentina has mainly focused on education as an asset for future labor, its impact on growth and social and economic inclusion.”
The agenda also includes food security and “the importance of building infrastructure, not only physical, but also digital, in order to make the world more competitive for growth.”
On the question of other countries’ participation in the summit, he noted that “Argentina has invited Chile and the Netherlands to attend the summit, as every year the country which holds the G20 presidency invites countries to attend the meeting at its own discretion.”
He explained that Spain is a permanent invited guest to G20 meetings. “Countries which chair key regional groups – such as the African Union (AU), the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) – are generally invited to the summit.”
This year these regional groups will be represented by Rwanda, Singapore and Senegal, respectively. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has also been invited by Argentina for this year’s G20 and is represented by Jamaica.
Saudi Arabia, a member of the G20 group, will host the summit in 2020. Accordingly, the Kingdom will lead the work and the program of the group for that year and head its meetings.