Australian assistant foreign minister to visit the Middle East, discuss global challenges

Update Australia’s Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Tim Watts. (Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
Australia’s Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Tim Watts. (Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
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Updated 04 June 2023
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Australian assistant foreign minister to visit the Middle East, discuss global challenges

Australia’s Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Tim Watts. (Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
  • Watts highlighted that his mission in the Middle East is to build global partnerships needed to meet global challenges

RIYADH: Australia’s Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Tim Watts is set to visit Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Lebanon on a mission to expand Australia’s foreign policy and “build global partnership” in “targeting global issues.”

On Sunday Watts tweeted: “Australia has global interests — like trade and investment, international security, and humanitarian cooperation.

“So while our foreign policy is focused primarily on our own region, we’re also actively pursuing our interests around the world.”

Watts, who has served in the role as part of the Albanese government since 2022, highlighted that his mission in the Middle East is to build global partnerships needed to meet global challenges.

Among the topics up for discussions on his tour are national and regional security issues and ways of strengthening economic and business ties.

Before visiting Saudi Arabia the minister will travel to Lebanon to discuss continued cooperation on counterterrorism and transnational crime.

He also hopes to discuss economic challenges and opportunities along with seeking updates on the investigation into the 2020 Beirut port explosion.

During his time in the Saudi Arabia, Watts will attend the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition Against Daesh, which he told Arab News would enable him “to engage with some of the 86 nations committed to eradicating extremist-terrorism.”

During the meeting, Watts aims to exchange views on regional security with coalition partners.

“I will reaffirm our commitment to the bilateral relationship, supported by growing trade and investment ties and shared G20 membership,” Watts said.

“I will also discuss the regional impact of key issues including climate change, humanitarian challenges emanating from regional conflicts, and cooperation in multilateral settings to strengthen the rules-based order.”

The Kingdom will be hosting the meeting as part of its international efforts in combating terrorism.

“Australia and Saudi Arabia have an important relationship that is underpinned by strong trade and commercial ties, shared membership of the G20, and cultural and religious links,” Watts told Arab News. 

“I want to extend my sincere thanks to Saudi Arabia in supporting the safe evacuation of many Australians from Sudan to Jeddah. I wish to also thank Saudi Arabia for their efforts towards bringing an end to the conflict, including Saudi mediation between Sudanese factions to secure ceasefires and humanitarian access,” he added. 

Following his time in Saudi Arabia the minister will then visit the UAE.

The minister said the “United Arab Emirates is a valued partner and a hub connecting Australians and Australian freight to the world.”

During his visit he hopes to discuss ways to further enhance the “already-close trade ties” and “highlight Australia as a reliable and reputable partner in two-way investment and as a provider of vocational, technical, and tertiary education,” he said.

Watts also hopes to use the visit as an opportunity to thank Saudi Arabia and the UAE for their efforts to assist in Australians evacuated from Sudan.

“This visit will be an opportunity to thank both governments for their support and efforts to end the conflict,” he said.