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Mideast issue, OIC reforms discussed: Musharraf-Abdullah meeting

Published Jun 26, 2005 12:00am

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RIYADH, June 25: President General Pervez Musharraf and Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud held wide-ranging talks here on Saturday with a thrust on cementing the multifaceted relationship between the two countries.

The two leaders exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interest, including the Middle East situation, reform and restructuring of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), Pakistan-India relations and counter-terror and security issues.

The president said that resolution of political disputes affecting the Muslim world with justice would be vitally helpful in the establishment of durable peace and stability.

He briefed the Crown Prince about Pakistan’s efforts for establishment of peace in South Asia through a just settlement of Jammu and Kashmir dispute with India.

Crown Prince Abdullah said Riyadh supported Pakistan’s efforts for a resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

The two leaders agreed on enhancing relations in the political, economic, commercial, investment and counter-terror and security areas.

Gen Musharraf called for greater trade between the OIC countries as a means to reduce poverty which he has repeatedly described as one of the major causes of extremism.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are coordinating efforts aimed at making the OIC a vibrant voice of the Muslim world, capable of steering its socio-economic development. Islamic countries’ foreign ministers are due to meet in Sana to finalize recommendations for restructuring of the OIC.

The president briefed the Saudi leaders about Pakistan’s recent economic success and said the country offered vast investment opportunities for Saudi investors.

The Crown Prince said that Saudi Arabia viewed Pakistan’s economic achievements with admiration.

The president is paying an official visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of the Saudi leadership. He will also perform Umrah and pay his respects at Roza-i-Rasool (Peace Be Upon Him).

Earlier, President Musharraf was seen off at Islamabad by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Senate chairman Mohammedmian Soomro, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Ehsanul Haq and Vice Chief of Army Staff General Ahsan Saleem Hayat.

Talking to reporters on the occasion, he noted progress in the Pakistan-India peace process, saying: “It is proceeding well”. He said there was an understanding and harmony between the leadership of the two countries and “good intentions on both sides to resolve the (Kashmir) dispute peacefully”.

“We are moving forward. Flexibility is being shown by both sides which is a good omen,” he said and added: “We see light at the end of the tunnel”.

On the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, the president rejected speculation that the Al Qaeda chief was in Pakistan.

“There are lot of people who say that Osama bin Laden is here in Pakistan. All that I would like to tell them, please come and show us where he is or tell us where he is. That is not the case,” he said, adding that people were just conjecturing on his whereabouts. He (Osama) could be anywhere, the president said.

Answering a question about Pakistan-Afghanistan ties, he said the two countries were well-coordinated in struggle against terrorism in Pakistan’s western border and Afghanistan.

“Operations are going well and intelligence coordination is there,” he pointed out.

Referring to his recent telephonic conversation with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, he described it as good, saying “small differences of opinion” were discussed and resolved amicably.

“There is total and complete understanding between us. We have resolved that whenever there is any point of view, we need to talk to each other and resolve them very amicably, which we have done,” he said.

Ruling Pakistan Muslim League chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Defence Minister Rao Sikandar Iqbal are accompanying the president.—APP

Our Correspondent adds: The Saudi Crown Prince hosted lunch in honour of the Pakistani delegation.

President Musharraf initially had a one-to-one meeting with Crown Prince Abdullah. Later, their aides joined the talks.

Sources said that President Musharraf inquired after Khadim-al-Harmain Sharifain Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, who is currently recovering from a lung ailment in a Riyadh hospital. The president wished the Saudi monarch early recovery.

The Iraq issue and the situation in Afghanistan also came under discussion at the meeting between Gen Musharraf and Crown Prince Abdullah.

Ways to improve coordination between the two countries on issues of counter-terrorism and on checking drug trafficking were also discussed at the meeting.

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