Saudi Arabia's king to begin state visit to Malaysia

Improving the Islamic world's image and curbing extremism are expected to be on the agenda when Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah meets Malaysia's leader during a visit starting Monday. Abdullah's three-day state visit, the first by a Saudi monarch to this Muslim-majority country since 1970, is part of an Asian tour that took him to China and India last week.

He is scheduled to leave Malaysia for Pakistan on Wednesday. Abdullah was slated to meet with Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday to address issues including how to proceed with efforts, planned by the Organization of the Islamic Conference or OIC, to improve the Islamic world's international image and to curb extremist ideologies.

Leaders from the 57-country OIC vowed during a December meeting in the Saudi city of Mecca to reform textbooks, restrict religious edicts and crack down on terror financing. Malaysia, which chairs the OIC, was also set to sign agreements with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to cooperate in science, education, culture and the prevention of tax evasion and double taxation, Malaysia's foreign ministry said in a recent statement.

Abdullah, who ascended the throne last August after the death of his half brother, Fahd, is traveling with 11 Cabinet ministers, 13 royal family members, senior government officials and private sector representatives.

Abdullah was set to receive a red-carpet welcome from Malaysia's constitutional monarch, King Syed Sirajuddin Syed Jamalullail, and Cabinet ministers at Parliament on Monday, reports the AP. I.L.

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