Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to arrive in Pakistan

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah was to arrive in Pakistan on Wednesday to discuss economic cooperation and security during the first visit by a Saudi monarch in 30 years, the foreign ministry said. Abdullah was to meet with President Gen. Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday and attend an official dinner in the capital, Islamabad, where security has been stepped up, ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said. Abdullah will hold "in-depth talks with the president, covering a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of interest and concern to the two countries," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday.

"The visit of the Saudi monarch is taking place at a critical time in the region. The president's talks with the royal visitor on the evolving security situation in the region will thus be of particular importance," it said.

Abdullah is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Thursday. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, both U.S. allies in the war against terrorism, have close relations and their leaders hold regular consultations.

Abdullah has visited Pakistan before, including a tour in October 2003 as the Saudi crown prince, but the last visit by any Saudi king was in 1976.

Saudi Arabia is Pakistan's largest oil supplier and trade between the two countries in 2004-2005 was worth US$2.8 billion, the Foreign Ministry statement said, reports the AP. I.L.

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