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Monday 22 January 2007 (03 Muharram 1428)

Saudi-Pak Talks Focus on ME
Mohammed Rasooldeen, Arab News

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah confers the King Abdul Aziz Medallion, the Kingdom’s top honor, on Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf during a ceremony at his palace in Riyadh on Sunday. (SPA)

RIYADH, 22 January 2007 — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf held talks here yesterday on major regional and international developments, especially the Palestinian issue and the situation in Iraq, the Saudi Press Agency said.

The Saudi-Pak summit talks, which were attended by Crown Prince Sultan and other senior officials including Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, also explored ways of strengthening relations between the two Islamic countries.

During the meeting, King Abdullah honored the Pakistani president by conferring on him the King Abdul Aziz Medallion which is given to the heads of state of friendly countries.

Musharraf arrived here earlier in the day after performing Umrah in Makkah and visiting the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. On arrival in Riyadh, he was received by King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan as well as senior civilian and military officials.

Musharraf was accompanied by Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Muhammad Ali Durrani and Pakistani Ambassador in United Arab Emirates Ihsanullah. King Abdullah invited the president and his delegation to luncheon and held one-to-one talks with Musharraf.

“The award conferred was a pleasant surprise to everyone,” Pakistani Ambassador Shahid Karimullah said, adding that it was a symbol of the close friendship between the two leaders.

Referring to the purpose of the visit, Karimullah said that Musharraf came to the Kingdom on the first leg of a five-nation Arab tour in order to consult with King Abdullah on matters that he would discuss with other Arab heads of state.

He said Pakistan wanted to bring peace and harmony to the Muslim world and his visit to five Arab countries was to exchange views with leaders and devise a strategy to open the way to addressing problems confronting the Muslim world.

According to sources, the Pakistani president’s talks with the king centered on bilateral, regional and international issues with special focus on the situation in the Middle East, including Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan. The two leaders also discussed important issues related to the Islamic world.

Musharraf later left for Egypt where he will hold talks with President Hosni Mubarak. Musharraf, an ardent advocate of peace in the Middle East, will also meet King Abdallah of Jordan, President Bashar Assad of Syria and UAE President Sheikh Khalifa ibn Zayed Al-Nahayan.

“In addition to regional and global issues, the two leaders discussed how best the two countries could forge ahead in the economic field,” Ali Awadh Al-Assiri, Saudi ambassador in Islamabad said.

He pointed out that the president’s visit comes barely a month after Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s visit to the Kingdom. He recalled King Abdullah’s visit to Islamabad at the beginning of 2006 which was then followed by the visit of Crown Prince Sultan.

“During the king’s visit, five agreements were signed in Islamabad,” he said.

“The Kingdom enjoys a deep-rooted and strong relationship with Pakistan and has a unanimity of views on regional and international issues,” the envoy said.

Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia annually averages around $2.5 billion, over $2 billion of which constitutes Pakistan’s oil and oil-related imports.

The Kingdom has given licenses to 20 Pakistani companies to work under Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and several large Saudi companies have invested in projects in Pakistan.

Tamimi Global Company has recently begun the $437 million, Centaurus Project in Islamabad and the Dammam-based Tuwairqi Group has a project in Port Qassim. The Kingdom is home to 1.2 million Pakistani expatriate workers.


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