Brown promises to work closely with Saudi Arabia


Brown also pledged to work closely with the Gulf states and emerging economies like China and India to address the global crisis.

“Any movement on the process of reform at the summit-level meeting in Washington will entice more help from nations such as Saudi Arabia and China to help shore up the global economy,” said Brown.

Addressing the Saudi-British Joint Business Council meeting at the Riyadh InterContinental Hotel here yesterday, he said: “It is a pleasure and an honor for me to be here in Saudi Arabia for the second time this year to renew my friendship with King Abdullah, who is leading the world in search for peace and interfaith dialogue on the global level.”

Brown, who wrapped up his two-day official visit to Saudi Arabia, added: “Saudi Arabia will be at the table during the G-20 meeting in Washington and you have a crucial role to play and your voice must be heard.”

Before leaving for Qatar, Brown also met former Saudi prisoners at the US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay. Brown shook hands with six former detainees including Juma Al-Dossary, 35, and Ghanim Al-Harbi, 34, who both spent six years at Guantanamo.Referring to the proposal for reforming the global financial and policy-making institutions, Brown said: “Hundreds of billions of extra dollars are needed to make sure the IMF, already set to rescue Hungary, Ukraine and Iceland, can still act elsewhere if necessary … Saudis, I think, will contribute like other countries so we can have a bigger fund worldwide.”

The IMF currently has a $ 250 billion bailout plan but Brown wants countries like the Gulf states, boosted by record oil prices earlier in the year, and China to help swell this. He says he has discussed the plan for extra IMF funds with its chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, as well as with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The British prime minister, who struck a more upbeat tone after his visit to Riyadh, said: “Building blocks for financial recovery were in place.”

Analysts, however, have argued that the Gulf states will be reluctant to contribute to bolster the IMF fund or to contribute to any rescue plan because of the domination of the US and G-7 nations in the IMF and other institutions. But, British Business Secretary Peter Mandelson, who is traveling with Brown, said: “The 20-minute long separate one-on-one meeting between King Abdullah and Brown has stressed the importance of the situation and the common position the two leaders share on issues of mutual concern.” Brown dwelt at length on Saudi-British relations. “The British companies currently operating in the Kingdom employ about a million people and have a market value of 400 billion pounds,” he said. “I understand well why the Kingdom has been rated the best place in the Middle East to do business by the World Bank.”

Referring to progressively growing bilateral relations, Brown said Britain is the second largest foreign investor in the Kingdom. “There are about 200 UK-Saudi joint ventures with cumulative investment exceeding $ 14.5 billion, while more than 20,000 British citizens have been working and living here,” he noted. He estimated the total British investment in the Gulf at $ 5 billion. “Infrastructure and economic diversification programs currently planned or under way for this region are valued at some $ 2 trillion.”

The premier received applause when he said: “We in Britain are proud to be part of this growing region and we believe that in our companies we have the skills to make an even greater contribution.”

On the education front, he said that the links between Riyadh and London are growing fast, which can be substantiated by the fact that more than 12,000 Saudi students are currently enrolled at British institutions.


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