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Saudi to host top Arab, EU diplomats for Gaza talks: officials

By AFP

April 26, 2024 06:34 PM


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Top Arab and European diplomats are expected to begin arriving in the Saudi capital this weekend for an economic summit and meetings on the war in Gaza, diplomatic officials said.

The two-day World Economic Forum special meeting, scheduled to begin in Riyadh on Sunday, includes in its official program appearances by the Saudi, Jordanian, Egyptian, and Turkish foreign ministers.

A Gaza-focused session on Monday is set to feature newly appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, and Sigrid Kaag, the United Nations aid coordinator for Gaza.

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne is among the European officials traveling to the Saudi capital during the summit for talks on the war, which erupted with Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel.

"Discussions with European, American, and regional counterparts on Gaza and the regional situation are planned in Riyadh," a diplomatic source said on Friday.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is due to arrive on Monday to meet officials including Kaag and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, said spokesperson Sebastian Fischer.

"The visit will be about working on the many different flashpoints of the crisis in the Middle East, on de-escalation and on making progress towards a peaceful future," Fischer told a press conference in Berlin on Friday.

"As you all know, the Gulf states also have an important role to play here."

Saudi Arabia's neighbour Qatar hosts a Hamas political office and has served as a mediator in talks that have so far failed to secure a durable ceasefire and the release of many hostages seized in the October 7 attack.

Saudi Arabia has never recognized Israel, but before the Hamas attack US President Joe Biden's administration was hoping it would do so as part of a landmark deal that would also see Riyadh and Washington ramp up their security partnership.

The Hamas attack resulted in the deaths of about 1,170 people in Israel, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory military campaign to destroy Hamas has killed 34,356 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.


AFP


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