Ankara, Asharq Al-Awsat – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz arrived in Turkey Friday for a state visit, the last leg of a four-nation tour that has included visits to Britain, Germany and Italy. King Abdullah previously paid a state visit to Turkey in August 2006.
The Saudi-Turkish talks addressed Islamic and international issues, in particular the situation in Palestine and the Middle East peace process. Both leaders stressed the importance of reaching a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that includes the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, as called for in the Arab Peace Initiative.
The King and President Gul also discussed Lebanon, Iraq as well as areas of bilateral cooperation.
“The views of our respective countries on Middle Eastern issues, primarily Iraq and the Palestinian problem, are not only similar but complementary,” said a statement from Gul’s office.
“The King’s visit is seen as especially significant with respect to establishing security and stability in Iraq and protecting its territorial integrity during this process,” it added.
King Abdullah’s visit also comes a few days before Israeli and Palestinian Presidents Shimon Peres and Mahmud Abbas arrive in the Turkish capital.
Turkey believes it has an important role to play in Middle East diplomacy, drawing on its close ties with both Israel and the Palestinians.
During his stay in Ankara, King Abdullah will decorate Gul and Erdogan with Saudi state medals while Gul will present the King with a Turkish medal.
Saudi-Turkish relations date back to 1929, when the two countries signed a friendship treaty. Since then, relations between the two countries have strengthened and expanded in political, economic and cultural areas. The volume of trade between Saudi Arabia and Turkey totaled $3.3 billion in 2006, and more than 250,000 Turks travel to the Kingdom each year to perform pilgrimages.
The two sides will also sign a deal preventing double-taxation.
In addition, Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal held a separate round of talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan to continue discussion of the issues raised by King Abdullah and President Gul.
The King’s visit is due to end Saturday.