Saudi Arabia plans to open an official embassy in Finland as a sign of the good relations between the two countries, the Arab News reported today.
“We regard this as extremely important for relations,” said Teemu Tanner, director general of Africa and the Middle East at the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, as quoted in the Arab News. He added that it is only a matter of time for the embassy to open.
Diplomatic relations between Finland and Saudi Arabia were established in 1969, and Finland has an embassy in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia is an important economic partner for Finland, and is rated as the fifth largest importer of Finnish products. The volume of trade between the two countries is estimated at around $1.2 billion [840 million Euros]. Finland primarily exports mobile phones, paper, wood and machinery to Saudi Arabia, while the Kingdom exports raw materials for plastics to Finland.
In another sign of the positive relations between Saudi Arabia and Finland, Finnish President Tarja Halonen is scheduled to visit the Kingdom for the first time this weekend. The visit will focus on trade issues as well as regional and global matters.
“It is extremely important for us to know Saudi Arabia’s views on Iraq, Iran, but also issues such as Somalia,” Tanner told the Arab News. “One objective of the [presidential] visit is to convey notes on international questions, as we enter a very interesting phase in the Middle East peace process.”
Tourism is another potential area for cooperation; Finnish Muslims often visit the Kingdom to perform pilgrimages.