By Vugar Khalilov
Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Fariz Rzayev and his Saudi counterpart Waleed bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji have discussed regional and global issues of mutual interest, the Foreign Ministry reported on November 29.
The meeting was held as part of the first round of consultations between the Azerbaijani and Saudi Arabian foreign ministries on November 29, 2021, in Riyadh, the ministry said.
The senior officials discussed the current level of bilateral relations, as well as ways to improve mutual ties in political, economic, humanitarian, and other fields.
Rzayev briefed his counterpart about the post-war regional situation, including the restoration, reconstruction, and reintegration carried out in Azerbaijan's lands liberated from Armenia's occupation.
Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia built diplomatic ties on February 24, 1992. Saudi Arabia was among the first countries to recognize Azerbaijan's independence on December 30, 1991. Azerbaijan opened its embassy in Riyadh in April 1994 and the Saudi Arabia embassy has been operating in Baku since June 1999.
Between 1994 and 1999 Saudi Arabia provided humanitarian assistance to Azerbaijan to fight the huge refugee crisis as a result of the Karabakh conflict that started with Armenia's territorial claims. The program aimed to help refugees and IDPs providing them with daily necessities such as food, medicine and so on. Moreover, as part of the program, some people who got disabled as a result of the conflict were also treated in Saudi Arabia in 1999.
In 2002, the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) provided a loan to the Azerbaijani government for the construction of secondary schools in Baku. In 2005, the Saudi government donated approximately $50,000 to Azerbaijan for demining and rebuilding the country's liberated parts.
It should be noted that the trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia amounted to $13.4 million in 2020. In addition, the trade turnover between the two countries amounted to $7.5 million in the first five months of 2021.
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