German foreign minister to visit UAE

After visiting officials in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Guido Westerwelle will wrap up his trip with talks in the UAE.

The German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle will visit Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE this week in a bid to promote bilateral ties and a relaunch of the Middle East peace process, according to Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke. Mr Westerwelle will begin the trip on Wednesday and make stops in Ankara and Istanbul to meet with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu and European Affairs minister Egemen Bagis. After visits to Saudi Arabia and Qatar, he will wrap up his trip with a visit to the UAE for talks with President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahayan and Foreign Minister Sheikh Abudllah bin Zayed al-Nahayan.

At his initial stop in Turkey, Mr Westerwelle will discuss items on the extensive bilateral and international agenda that Germany has with the country, according to Mr Peschke. Germany has the largest population of Turkish origin outside Turkey, comprising nearly three million people. Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right government is sceptical about Ankara's bid to join the European Union and would prefer it to be granted a "privileged partnership" with the bloc. Westerwelle, the leader of the pro-business Free Democrats who became foreign minister and vice-chancellor in November, will also likely meet president Abdullah Gul and prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Mr Peschke said. "In the Arabian Peninsula, the issues will also include the situation in the Middle East, the state of the peace process and how we can manage together, with our partners in the region, to bring about a new start in the Middle East peace process," Mr Peschke said.

He will go on to Riyadh for talks with Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and other members of the government, followed by meetings in Doha with his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani, and the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani before visiting the UAE. * AFP