Kenny meets Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince in Riyadh

Taoiseach discusses economic and human rights issues at meeting

Enda Kenny pictured in Saudi Arabia earlier today.

Enda Kenny pictured in Saudi Arabia earlier today.

Mon, Jan 6, 2014, 20:41

Economic and human rights issues were discussed when Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman met in Riyadh today.

Speaking after the meeting at the Royal Palace, Mr Kenny said he congratulated the prince, the deputy prime minister, on the Kingdom’s recent election to the United Nations’ human rights council.

Ireland obviously will work with Saudi Arabia in terms of human rights and their participation on the council,” he said.

Saudi Arabia has long been criticised over its human rights record and the treatment and marginalisation of women in the Kingdom. Amnesty International says more than 80 people were executed in the Kingdom in 2012 and local media this week reported on the case of a Filipino man who faced execution unless he raised 2 million rials.

Asked the status of women in Saudi Arabia was an issue for his Government when engaging with Saudi Arabia, Mr Kenny replied that he had spoken to a number of women who lectured in local universities.

“Admittedly [the universities] are all for women which is quite a difference from the Irish situation,” he said.

Mr Kenny and the Crown Prince also discussed political developments in the Middle East region.

“I congratulated Saudi on their leadership in terms of moderation here in the Gulf region and their desire for a peaceful situation on a lot of very complex and technical issues.”

Mr Kenny said he found the Crown Prince to be well versed in Ireland’s economic situation and bailout exit and said they discussed the King Abdullah scholarship programme, which is currently supporting some 2,700 Saudi third-level students in Ireland.

“He expressed himself as very willing to work through the diplomatic services to develop links between our two countries,” Mr Kenny said, adding that the Crown Prince expressed an interest in providing funding for young Saudi’s to work in Ireland after their graduation to gain experience.

The Taoiseach and Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton later visited the Saudi Arabian Chamber of Commerce along with representatives of Enterprise Ireland linked firms taking part in a trade mission to the Gulf region.

The trade mission will move on to Doha in Qatar tonight before visiting Abu Dhabi and Dubai later this week.

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