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Monday July 20, 2009

Najib: Saudi keen to step up economic cooperation

JEDDAH: Malaysia’s recent economic liberation measures have boosted Saudi Arabia’s interest to enhance bilateral economic cooperation, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said here.

The Prime Minister said King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al Saud had expressed the possibility of Saudi Arabia participating actively in Malaysia in the Islamic banking sector, expanding participation in the Islamic services and product manufacturing sectors and also raising its equity in the country.

In the Holy Land: Najib and Rosmah performing the ‘tawaf’ during their umrah pilgrimage in Mecca yesterday. — Bernama

King Abdullah, who is the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, had conveyed this when Najib had an audience with the monarch at the palace yesterday.

Speaking to Malaysian reporters after the audience, Najib said the Al Rajhi Bank of Saudi Arabia was already operating in Malaysia and businessmen of both countries were engaged in joint ventures in telecommunications in Malaysia and the energy sector and urban development in Saudi Arabia.

Najib has liberalised 27 services subsectors, the financial services sector and the foreign investment sector to make Malaysia’s economy more attractive to foreign investors and stimulate economic activities in facing global economic challenges.

Najib, who concludes his four-day visit to Saudi Arabia today, said King Abdullah expressed satisfaction with the ties between Riyadh and Kuala Lumpur and said Saudi Arabia regarded Malaysia as a close friend.

“His Majesty considers Malaysia as an exemplary nation in terms of the progress we have achieved thus far,” he said.

On international issues, Najib said Malaysia agreed to a proposal of the monarch for the inter-religious dialogue to be held in Austria.

Malaysia also agreed to the expediting of a proposal by the Saudi king for the setting up of an international centre for intelligence sharing in fighting terrorism, he said.

The discussions on international issues at the audience also covered developments in the Middle East.

On tourism, Najib said he had learned that Saudi Arabian tourists had expressed much satisfaction with their experiences in Malaysia.

On pilgrimages, he said King Abdullah had praised Malaysian pilgrims for their strict adherence to the law and regulations and for not engaging in political activity when performing the pilgrimage in the Holy Land.

He said Malaysia was also thankful to Saudi Arabia for the quota on the number of pilgrims allocated to the country.

He said that King Abdullah had explained to him the efforts being made by Saudi Arabia to enhance the facilities accorded to pilgrims.

Najib said the audience which was scheduled for 30 minutes had dragged on to 75 minutes.

After the audience, Najib, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, their son Nor Ashman Razak and other members of the delegation left for Mecca to perform the umrah (minor pilgrimage). — Bernama