Summary: 17 April 2011, Brussels - Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, travels to the Gulf today (17th April), where she will co-chair the EU-Gulf Cooperation Council Ministerial Meeting in Abu Dhabi, which takes place on Wednesday 20th April.
The HRVP travels first to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, where she will meet Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal and GCC Secretary-General Abdel-Aziz Zayani. She will also hold talks with a group of influential Saudi women.
On Tuesday 19th April, the HRVP will be in Doha, Qatar, where she will hold talks with Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani. She will also take part in a policy discussion at the Doha Brookings Centre.
In Abu Dhabi on Wednesday 20th April, the HRVP will co-chair the EU-GCC Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. She will also meet the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
"My first official visit to the Gulf region comes at an important moment in our relationship with our neighbourhood," Catherine Ashton said. "It is vital to maintain close links to the Gulf states because we face many common challenges, and share many interests: from putting momentum into the Middle East Peace Process, to resolving the Iranian nuclear issue, to discussing our responses to the transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. I believe my visit can lay the foundations for a close, frank and open political dialogue between the EU and the Gulf states on all these subjects and more. I also hope to gain a better insight into the political situation in these countries, and I am looking forward to representing the EU 27 at the EU-Gulf Cooperation Council meeting, which will focus very much on recent developments in the region."
The HRVP will take part in the closing press conference following the EU-GCC Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting, at 15.30 on Wednesday 20th April. This will be covered by Europe By Satellite.