The Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mohammad Haneef Atmar’s visit to Saudi Arabia, ended successfully. The visit took place at the invitation of Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan from 20th to the 23rd January 2021.
After performing the Hajj Umrah and pilgrimage to Medina, Foreign Minister Atmar met with various Saudi Arabian officials including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Commerce, the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, the President of the Islamic Development Bank, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Minister of Transport and Co-Chair of the Saudi-Afghan Joint Cooperation Commission, the Minister of Education, and Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council. In these meetings a number of decisions were made and agreements were reached.
1. Expanding Political Relations
- The Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia agreed to increase ongoing bilateral contacts and consultations to realize the vision of the two countries’ leaders to further strengthen political relations and economic cooperation, and contribute to peace and stability.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The MoU will increase contacts and consultations between senior Afghan and GCC officials to strengthen political, economic, and cultural cooperation.
- Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia stressed the need to enhance security cooperation in the fight against terrorism and common threats.
2. Supporting the End of War and Ensuring Lasting Peace
- The Muslim World League shall hold a historic international conference of leading thinkers, scholars, and muftis of the Islamic World to support the cessation of hostilities, the end of bloodshed, and the success of the Afghan peace process.
- The Government of Saudi Arabia announced its support for the International Ulema Conference and the global consensus to end the war in Afghanistan.
- Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, rejected the crimes and terrorist acts in Afghanistan from the Islamic point of view.
- The head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) supported the government’s flexible stance on peace and political participation.
3. Strengthening Economic Cooperation
- Afghan and Saudi officials agreed to finalize a mutual “Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Framework” involving four sectors: (1) trade, (2) investment, (3) guest workers, and (4) development cooperation.
- Both sides reviewed Sixty decisions of the first meeting of the Joint Cooperation Commission between the two countries, and they agreed to implement the remaining provisions. Both sides agreed to hold semi-annual meetings at the level of the Co-Chairs of the Joint Commission to evaluate agreements and progress.
- Both sides stressed on expanding transportation lines and removing barriers in shipment of Afghanistan’s primary export goods to Saudi Arabia.
- It was agreed to send a technical team to Afghanistan to expertly examine the investment opportunities in the mineral resources and assess the comparative advantages in producing ond exporting agricultural and food products, and Afghanistan’s accession to regional supply and value chain.
- It was agreed to send a technical team of the Islamic Development Bank to examine Afghanistan’s capacities and opportunities in various sectors to allow Afghanistan to join the “Member Country Partnership Strategy” and enter into partnership with the IsDB.
4. Educational and Cultural Collaborations
- The Foreign Minister and the Saudi Minister of Education signed a “Memorandum of Understanding on Scientific and Educational Cooperation.” The MoU increases consultations and collaboration on scholarships, teacher training, specialized and vocational training.
- Saudi Arabia pledged to build a specialist hospital along with a medical school in Kabul.
- Both sides agreed to expedite the establishment of the International Islamic University in Nangarhar. In this regard, both decided to establish a technical group in cooperation with OIC, IsDB, and SDF to provide specialized advice and assistance in financing, design, and management of the university.