The Elders welcomed Saudi Arabia’s impressive social and economic reforms, and urged a comparable level of commitment towards establishing meaningful dialogue with its neighbours, notably Iran, to resolve regional security crises including Yemen.

On their first official visit to the Kingdom as Elders, Kofi Annan, Martti Ahtisaari, Lakhdar Brahimi and Ernesto Zedillo held talks in Riyadh with HRH King Salman bin Abdulaziz that focused on the broad geopolitical and security environment in the Middle East and the “Vision 2030” domestic reform agenda.

Kofi Annan, Chair of The Elders and former UN Secretary-General, said:
“We applaud the vision and ambition of these reforms. Comparable ambition is needed to try to resolve the conflicts and tensions scarring the wider Middle East, from Yemen to Syria, Palestine and also Qatar. The key interlocutor is Iran, and I urge both countries to put aside suspicions and grievances to talk and work together in the best interests of both their peoples.”

The Elders welcomed the rapid pace of social change in Saudi Arabia in recent months, particularly the easing of restrictions on the rights and role of women in society. They noted though that the reforms would only prove successful if Saudi Arabia enjoyed peace and security with all its neighbours.

Lakhdar Brahimi, Elder, former Algerian Foreign Minister and UN diplomat, added:

“Saudi Arabia is transforming its own society at an impressive pace. This wave of change offers an opportunity for all countries in the region to pursue a fresh approach towards each other, and defuse regional tensions. It is time for key stakeholders across the Middle East to take responsibility for conflict resolution in the region.”

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