Nagoya, Japan: Saudi Arabia took over the G20 presidency for a year as the kingdom’s new foreign minister, a prince with diplomatic experience in the West, landed in Japan’s Nagoya city on Friday to meet with his counterparts from the Group of 20 nations.
Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud was appointed in October in a partial cabinet reshuffle, joining a new generation of royals in their 40s who rose to power under Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, 34.
King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz has hailed the kingdom’s G20 presidency as proof of its key role in the global economy.
Prince Faisal picked up the baton at a ceremony on Saturday in Nagoya, where G20 foreign ministers have gathered for talks.
Japan - which headed the G20 this year - was the kingdom’s second-largest export market last year, at $33 billion, according to IMF trade data.
Apart from its reliance on Saudi oil, Japan has deepened its ties to the kingdom thanks to Japanese technology conglomerate SoftBank Group. Riyadh has been a big supporter of SoftBank’s massive Vision Fund.
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told Prince Faisal he was pleased to meet him for the first time and both sides wanted to boost relations, according to a read-out from Japan’s foreign ministry.
Motegi praised Saudi work to stabilise southern Yemen, where Riyadh orchestrated a deal to end a power struggle between Yemen’s government, which it backs, and southern separatists.
King Salman also said this week Riyadh wants a political settlement in Yemen, where it has battled Iran-aligned Al Houthis in a nearly five-year war.
A diplomatic source said there had been an “apparent de-escalation” in Yemen’s conflict in recent weeks. Diplomats said that Saudi Arabia plans more than a dozen G20 summits throughout the year on tourism, agriculture, energy, environment and digital economy.