Visits by Algerian, Mauritanian leaders signal closer Saudi ties with Maghreb
LONDON - Reflecting closer relations with Maghreb countries, Saudi Arabia recently hosted Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. A high-level Moroccan delegation also visited Riyadh during the same period.
Experts said a desire to boost relations between Saudi and Maghreb leaders supported openness and reform both in Saudi Arabia and the North African countries. Riyadh also shares with Maghreb capitals a desire to arrive at a resolution of the Libyan crisis.
The visits by Ould Ghazouani and Tebboune were their first to Saudi Arabia since each assumed office.
Tebboune met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on February 27, the official Saudi press agency said. The two Arab leaders reportedly discussed bilateral relations, opportunities for cooperation and regional developments.
Tebboune met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz a day earlier.
Saudi Arabia is one of the top investors in Algeria, with investments estimated at $3 billion, a figure predicted to surpass $10 billion within the next decade.
In addition to trying to boost economic relations with Gulf countries, Tebboune is seeking to build support for Algerian initiatives regarding Libya, including hosting a summit involving the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates share concerns about the deteriorating situation in Libya. Analysts said they both oppose Turkey’s military involvement, which includes Syrian mercenaries fighting in support of Libya’s Government of National Accord.
Tebboune’s visit came one day after Algerian Army Chief-of-Staff Said Chengriha was in the United Arab Emirates for an unmanned systems exhibition, where he met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
The same week as Tebboune’s visit, Ould Ghazouani also met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed. The talks focused on economic, cultural and technical issues, evidenced by agreements signed between the two governments.
The Saudi Press Agency said four documents signed included an agreement of an executive programme for cultural cooperation between Mauritanian and Saudi ministries of culture.
A memorandum of understanding regarding civil service was also agreed upon and an agreement for cooperation in vocational and technical training. The King Abdulaziz Foundation signed a memorandum with Mauritania’s General Directorate of National Documents at the General Secretariat.
Consultations with Maghreb countries included talks with a Moroccan delegation, led by Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s adviser Fouad Ali El Himma and Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita, who visited Saudi Arabia in preparation for an expected visit by the Moroccan king, Elaph online news reported.