Saudi FM speaks with US, French counterparts over the phone

Saudi Arabia and Spain need to raise relations to a ‘strategic partnership,’ says Spanish FM Jose Manuel Albares

DUBAI: Spain’s top diplomat has expressed his desire to grow the country’s already-strong ties with Saudi Arabia into a strategic partnership, eyeing developments in renewable energies.

Jose Manuel Albares, minister of foreign affairs, European Union, and cooperation, said Spain’s collaborations with the Saudi government had already shown that the two work “very well” together.

“(Now) we have to raise the level of our current partnership into a strategic partnership,” Albares told Katie Jensen, host of the Arab News’ current-affairs show “Frankly Speaking.” The full interview will be published and broadcast on Sunday.

“We saw there are still plenty of opportunities to work together, and there are fields that go beyond the economy, for instance, exchange in education, institutions that can come (to Saudi Arabia), exchange of students, culture, language, there are many issues, and many fields.”

Albares added: “When I think that when you see the cooperation of enterprises of Spain, such as Navantia or Airbus, it is a European consortium, but with a very strong Spanish interest in it, they have been of mutual benefit for both.

“So, I think we must continue on those issues. There is no moot point between us.”

Of particular interest for Albares is strengthening ties in renewable energy development, with Albares noting the depth of knowledge Spain has in the field.

Albares was speaking to Katie Jensen, host of the Arab News’ current-affairs show “Frankly Speaking.” (AN Photo)

He said that while there is “still plenty of room to improve what’s already an excellent relationship,” he has held positive discussions relating to green hydrogen, as well as solar- and wind-power development.

Asked of the challenges facing any “strategic partnership,” Albares said the “common past and common history” shared by Spain and the Arab Gulf states had set them in good stead.

“We are a Mediterranean country. We share that with many Arab countries. There’s a tradition of diplomacy between Spain and the different Arab countries. And there is this common past and common history. So yes, I think it’s time to renew,” he said.

“The Arab world is changing greatly. There are fantastic things happening in the Arab world and Spain wants to be part of that transformation. I met and talked to many women of the Saudi society, of the civil society. And I saw the thriving changes that are going on in Saudi Arabia. And we want to be part of that (transformation).”

Speaking during his diplomatic tour across the Gulf, visiting opposite numbers in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, Albares said discussions had inevitably been drawn to the conflict in Gaza and the need for collaboration.

“(We discussed) how we can work together for a permanent ceasefire, release of hostages, and the entrance of humanitarian aid for the Palestinian state,” he said.

The full episode of Frankly Speaking will be released on Sunday.

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