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Westerwelle debates human rights with Saudis

AFP · 9 Jan 2010, 16:25

Published: 09 Jan 2010 16:25 GMT+01:00

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"We had an extensive discussion about the issue of human rights, right through to the discussion of religious plurality," he told reporters after talks with his Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal.

"The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is aware that the European Union has a clear position on the issue of the death penalty: we are convinced that the death penalty should be abolished around the world."

Prince Saud told the same news conference that during their discussion, he had made clear to Westerwelle that regional, cultural and religious traditions must be respected.

"I would like to stress that we talked about human rights and that includes different criteria between countries," Saud said. "We reached the conclusion that these matters cannot be imposed by either side summarily and a change cannot come unless is it by conviction."

Human rights activists in Germany had called on Westerwelle to take up the issue of gay rights during his one-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where Islamic sharia law permits the imposition of the death penalty for a range of "crimes" including homosexual relations.

Sources who took part in the talks said Westerwelle directly addressed the issue of human rights and the death penalty in his talks with Prince Saud, and asked about the work of the government-created Saudi Human Rights Commission.

Story continues below…

Prince Saud described the efforts of a so-called national dialogue taking place between traditionalists and modernisers, as well as Sunni and Shiite clerics, the sources said.

Westerwelle, who arrived in Riyadh late Friday with a business delegation, also held talks with the country's finance minister. He was also due to meet King Abdullah before flying to Qatar for talks on Sunday.

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Your comments about this article

03:16 January 10, 2010 by Davey-jo
Debating Human Rights with Saudi Arabia is like ......... ?
14:59 January 10, 2010 by auniquecorn
And they even send a gay guy to do it.
22:29 January 10, 2010 by wenddiver
Look at the look on the Saudi's face. He's probably thinking, your lucky your lectiring the government, because you wouldn't want your effeminant neck under your average Saudi's sword blade. Or you might really begin to understand the full implications of Shari law.
14:09 January 11, 2010 by mixxim
Does this idiot really think he can influence them? If he were a British MP we would all know he was making a profit on his expenses claim again. We should be fighting the Saudis to introduce 'democracy' as in Iran, Afghanistan, South America et al. But they have oil!!!!
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