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Saudi Arabia-Turkey State Visit
New Chapter in Relationship?



Editor's Note

In January King Abdullah visited Beijing, the first trip by a Saudi monarch to China, in what President Hu Jintao said would, "write a new chapter of friendly cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia in a new century."  That was just one of a host of groundbreaking visits by King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan to boost Saudi Arabia's bilateral relations with important new partners, especially in East and South Asia.

Today King Abdullah continues that process when he arrives in Turkey -- the first visit by a Saudi leader in 40 years -- for a three-day state visit to forge what Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal sees as a new "strategic partnership."  This morning M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, writing in Arab News, surveyed the Riyadh-Ankara relationship and the King's visit.  We thank Arab News for permission to share it with you. 


Saudi-Turkey Relations Set for New Era
M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News 

ANKARA, 8 August 2006 — Saudi Arabia and Turkey are all set to enter into a new era of political and economic relations with the historic three-day visit of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to Ankara, beginning today. 

“The secular character of Turkey will not be an obstacle on the way of forming a strategic partnership between Riyadh and Ankara,” said Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal.

Ankara is preparing to roll out the red carpet for the king and his entourage. Turkish officials were busy the whole day making elaborate arrangements for the royal visit.

Turkish International Trade Minister Kursad Tuzmen told Arab News yesterday that the focus of the visit is to strengthen international ties with seven agreements lined up to be signed during this visit.

On the road again -- King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia made the first visit by a Saudi monarch to China in January 2006.  (Photo: SPA) The visit will be the first by a Saudi king in 40 years and is expected to open a new chapter in bilateral relations, Prince Saud said in statements published yesterday.

The prince said the accession of Turkey to the European Union would help the West have a better understanding of the Islamic world and contribute to resolving many issues. 

“I believe that Saudi Arabia and Turkey can play a joint role at regional and international levels to reinforce world peace and stability.”

Saud said both sides have the will to strengthen political, economic and military ties. “Ankara has taken important steps toward attracting foreign investment and Turkish and Saudi companies could establish alliances to enter European and Asian markets,” he pointed out. The Saudi minister dismissed suggestions that the differences of governing systems in the two countries would prevent them from entering into a partnership. 

Referring to the progressively growing relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, the Turkish minister said the two countries sought to boost commercial links. 

“There are several plans in the pipeline like helping Turkish banks to open branches in Saudi Arabia and to help Turkish companies boost their presence and educating businessmen of the two countries to invest,” he said. “The total Saudi-Turkish trade represents only seven percent of our global trade, which is quite minimal.”

The two-way trade has been in the region of SR9.3 billion annually. Saudi Arabia’s exports to Turkey account for 83 percent of all GCC exports to the country. 

Asked about the itinerary of the Saudi delegation, he said that the summit-level talks would be held today at the presidential palace in Ankara. Tuzmen said that the king would visit the commercial city of Istanbul tomorrow and on Thursday. He would address a meeting of Saudi and Turkish businessmen. 

The business meeting in Istanbul would be co-chaired by King Abdullah and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Major speakers at the business meeting include CSCCI’s Chairman Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid, Saleh Kamel, chairman of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Ali Bayramogly, co-chair of the Saudi-Turkish Businessmen’s Forum. The minister alluded to the situation in Lebanon, which would be a major topic of discussions during the state visit. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

“The US inaction to stop the attacks on Lebanon is harming development efforts in the Middle East,” he said while expressing outrage over the ongoing Israeli military assaults in Lebanon.

Source: Arab News

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