JEDDAH, March 25 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim concluded a three-day official visit to Saudi Arabia yesterday, and said he considers Saudi Arabia a key country for Malaysia in the Middle East.

The visit to the kingdom was the first official visit by Anwar outside the Asean region since his appointment as Malaysia’s 10th prime minister in November last year.

Speaking at a press conference, Anwar said he appreciated getting the invitation to visit in a short time from the Saudi Arabian government (after his appointment as the prime minister).

Anwar said Malaysia enjoyed excellent relations with Saudi Arabia, including in business matters, banking and Islamic activities.

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The prime minister said he wished to step up the ties with the kingdom.

He expressed the hope that this good relationship can enable Malaysia to benefit from some of Saudi Arabia’s new initiatives driven by Vision 2030 introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

During the visit, Anwar, accompanied by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir and Minister of Communications and Digital Fahmi Fadzil, among others, had a meeting with the Saudi Arabian business community at the headquarters of the Islamic Development Bank here.

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The Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Hissein Brahim Taha, and the Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL), Sheikh Dr Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, called on Anwar.

Anwar also witnessed the signing of three memoranda of understanding between private companies in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

The prime minister and members of his delegation also performed the umrah and met with Malaysians residing in Jeddah, Mekah and Madinah for “iftar” (breaking of fast).

Anwar said the Saudi Arabian leaders had requested him to extend his visit so that he could meet more Saudi leaders, but had to turn it down due to prior engagements at home.

“I appreciate the invitation, including for an audience scheduled with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and the Crown Prince, but had to turn it down because of the scheduled iftar with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong tomorrow and an official visit to Cambodia,” he said.

Anwar and the delegation departed for Kuala Lumpur from Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport at 12.30am (5.30am in Malaysia) Saturday.

The prime minister is scheduled to make a one-day official visit to Cambodia on Monday (March 27). — Bernama