Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration designate, on Monday, called for the consolidation of the Ghana-Saudi Arabia relations for the mutual benefit of their people.
She noted that Ghana has been keen on exploring avenues to expand the existing cordial relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including a visit by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey said this, when Mr Ahmed Kattan, Minister of State for African Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, paid a courtesy call on her in Accra.
The meeting formed part of Mr Kattan’s three-day visit to Ghana, during which he would also hold a bilateral meeting with President Akufo-Addo.
The essence of Mr Kattan’s visit to Ghana was to consolidate Saudi Arabia’s relations with Ghana and to seek Ghana’s continuous support for Saudi Arabia’s interests in the Middle East Region.
“It is significant to note that Saudi Arabia has long coveted Ghana’s friendship and this has been underscored by the Kingdom in various meetings with officials of the Ghana Mission in Riyadh,” she stated.
She said since Ghana established Diplomatic Relations with the Kingdom in the 1960s with the opening of the Riyadh Mission in March 1960, very few political and economic activities had taken place between the two countries except for the annual Hajj undertaken by Ghanaian pilgrims.
She said Ghana’s economic engagement with the Kingdom was through the Saudi Fund; stating, however, that not much had been realised from the Saudi Fund despite its preparedness to cooperate with Ghana.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey expressed gratitude to the Kingdom for the courtesies extended to Vice President, Alhaji Dr Mahamud Bawumia and her good self (Minister-Designate) when they both visited the Kingdom in 2018 and 2020 respectively.
She also expressed gratitude for the Kingdom’s long-standing facilitation of Ghanaian pilgrims in the annual Hajj.
She congratulated Saudi Arabia on successfully steering the Presidency of the G20 at the time when the world was grappling with the emergence of the COVID-19 and expressed the hope that the Kingdom would continue to be a voice for developing countries at the G20, particularly on matters such as equitable access to vaccines and debts forgiveness.
She urged Mr Kattan to encourage Saudi companies to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to invest in Ghana and use the country as the springboard to export to other parts of the continent.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey thanked the Saudi Government for the funds, which had been obtained from the Saudi Fund for Development for the expansion of the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital and the approval of $20million for the procurement of equipment to upgrade the status of that Hospital.
She also solicited the assistance of Mr Kattan for the reactivation of financial facility from the Saudi Fund for the Korle-Bu Accident Centre project.
She said the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Political Consultations between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, would enable the two countries to foster close ties on several areas of cooperation.
The Minister-designate reiterated Ghana’s support for the two-state solution in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and call on all stakeholders to support the peace process within the framework of the UN.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey extended warm felicitations to the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz and the Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and wish them good health and God’s blessings.
On his part, Mr Kattan said the meeting provided a good opportunity for them to exchange views on ways to foster their relations to coordinate their efforts concerning issues of mutual concern.
“I want to express our deep appreciation for the distinguished relations our two countries are enjoying. I also want to commend your efforts in this regard, including your recent visit to Saudi Arabia in January of last year, which I hope proved to be fruitful.”