Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier calls on Arab Gulf states to aid refugees

German FM Steinmeier has called on Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia, to provide 'humanitarian services for refugees.' Steinmeier's statement comes during a Mideast tour aimed at fostering a solution for the Syrian war.

In Saudi Arabia, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on Gulf states to take action and allow more refugees to be settled in their countries.

"Of course we expect the region here in the Arabian Gulf to participate in humanitarian services for refugees," Steinmeier said during a press conference in Saudi Arabia.

The German foreign minister described the necessity for Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to offer aid to refugees as an "obligation."

According to UN figures, Saudi Arabia hosts 561 refugees and 100 asylum seekers as of December 2014. However, Riyadh provided the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) more than $92 million (81.3 million euros) last year.

More than half a million refugees, the majority from Syria, have entered the EU in 2015

'Difficult partners'

Steinmeier also noted that he brought up the case of Raif Badawi, a liberal Saudi blogger who was imprisoned and subjected to lashes for content deemed sacrilegious, with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

"It is necessary to speak with difficult partners," Steinmeier noted, deflecting criticism from rights groups of his Middle East tour.

The Syrian conflict was also taken up on Steinmeier's visit to the kingdom.

However, the German foreign minister said "it is very difficult" to overcome the differences between Riyadh and Tehran, two parties likely to sway the outcome of a political solution in Syria.

"Nevertheless, I have discovered here - in this conversation - the will of Saudi Arabia, and was credibly conveyed that one is interested in political solutions," Steinmeier said.

The conflict in Syria has left more than 250,000 people dead and displaced nearly half the country since it erupted in 2011.

ls/jm (AFP, dpa, KNA)