RIYADH, March 10 — Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has described his four-day official visit to Saudi Arabia as very successful.
“It’s very successful,” he said at the end of the visit Tuesday (Wednesday in Malaysia).
Apart from taking Kuala Lumpur-Riyadh ties to new heights, the visit has also produced several positive outcomes for Malaysia.
Among the substantive matters achieved were Malaysia’s success in securing an additional 10,000 places under its haj quota and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to ease and simplify the pre-clearance process for Malaysian haj and umrah pilgrims.
Other matters covered in the official talks included the possibility of Saudi Arabia increasing its palm oil import from 318,000 tonnes worth RM900 million last year to 500,000 tonnes in the near future.
For the additional Haj quota, the request was given the green light when Muhyiddin had an audience with the Crown Prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, who is also the kingdom’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, at the Al-Yamamah Palace here on the final day of the visit.
Malaysia is the first country listed for the ‘Mecca Road Service’ initiative which will ease and simplify the pre-clearance process for Malaysian haj and umrah pilgrims.
“All we have before this is a mere pilot project. With the initiative, it will be a permanent feature,” said a diplomat.
The Memorandum of Understanding on the matter was inked between the two countries at the palace.
As both countries are committed to bringing their ties to a higher level, they agreed to set up the Saudi-Malaysian Coordination Council to pave the way for regular consultation and follow-up on matters of mutual interest and benefit.
“We don’t want to talk and talk but nothing happens after that. We are going to have a structured mechanism to be jointly headed by the foreign ministers of both countries,” said Muhyiddin.
Muhyiddin said he and the Crown Prince would monitor the actions and progress made by the council.
The MoU on the establishment of the council was also signed by both countries at the palace.
Discussions between the two leaders also touched on the economy, defence, education, food security, trade and investment.
“We had a very long discussion and it continued during our dinner. The discussion was very solid,” said Muhyiddin.
Commenting on criticism by certain quarters back home over his official visit, Muhyiddin said: What’s important is the outcome of the visit. What the rakyat want from this visit and its outcome.”
The prime minister, who arrived in this country on Saturday, landed in Makkah first to perform the umrah and was given the opportunity to enter the Kaabah.
Muhyiddin then flew to Madinah on Sunday to visit the Tomb of Prophet Muhammad and Nabawi Mosque.
He arrived in this capital yesterday.
The official visit, at the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, was carried out under strict standard operating procedures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
From here, Muhyiddin will proceed to the United Arab Emirates for an official visit until Thursday. — Bernama