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ISLAMABAD, Feb 1: Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Wednesday agreed to reinforce ties between the two countries through increased cooperation.

At a meeting with the king here at the Aiwan-i-Sadr, the president saw a vast scope for improvement in a host of mutually beneficial areas. The king responded by saying that Saudi entrepreneurs would be encouraged to explore opportunities for enhancing trade and economic ties.

Earlier, speaking at a state banquet, King Abdullah expressed the hope that Pakistan and India would be able to resolve their disputes for establishment of peace and stability in the region.

“We appreciate recent peace initiatives and hope that Pakistan-India talks will achieve the desired results and lead to just settlement of disputes,” he said.

The king lauded President Musharraf’s ‘wisdom and sagacity’ and added that “we have great hopes of regional peace from your qualities.”

He praised Islamabad’s longstanding position on the Palestinian issue and said “Pakistan’s honourable position is a source of pride for every Muslim”.

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, he said, had a strong relationship and both were working to “establish a true economic partnership for development and prosperity of our people — apart from common faith, our bonds of relationship are based on economic and investment ties.”

Relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were genuine and constant and the visit would impart strength and depth to this relationship, he said.

The king appreciated Pakistan’s achievements in the fields of science and technology.

President Musharraf said that both countries had a firm commitment to fight terrorism which posed a danger to all faiths and societies.

“Nothing can justify disruption of stability, progress and development in a society and killing of innocent people,” the president said while regretting acts of misguided individuals who had maligned Islam that stands for peace, tolerance and compassion.

He underlined the need for rooting out the bane of extremism from societies through education and reforms. He called for addressing the long-standing political disputes that mainly involved the Muslim world.

“There is an urgent need to heal the festering wounds of Palestine and Kashmir that have caused so much pain and sufferings among the Muslims.

“The durable peace and tranquillity in the Middle East demands a just and honourable solution of the Palestine issue,” he said and praised the Saudi leader’s peace initiative in Beirut three years ago.

“Nothing should be allowed to derail efforts for vacation of occupied territories and establishment of an independent homeland for the Palestinian people,” he stressed.

He said that the evolving political situation in the Middle East should be turned into an opportunity “to realize the objective of the two states of Palestine and Israel living side by side within secure borders”.

The president said that Pakistan was working for an environment of peace in South Asia and was engaged in sincere efforts to resolve the lingering Kashmir dispute that had been at the heart of conflict and tension with India.

He called for using the improved relations to find a just solution to the dispute, acceptable to all the parties — Pakistan, India and the Kashmiri people.

He lauded the king for his strong commitment towards the resolution of outstanding disputes between Pakistan and India and hoped that his recent visit to India would encourage the peace process.

On Afghanistan, the president said that Pakistan supported the government of President Hamid Karzai and was contributing to efforts for rehabilitation and reconstruction in that country.

He said that the Pakistan-Saudi Arabia friendship was constant and transcended the changing international environment and expediency of international politics.

“We maintain and consolidate our cooperation with Saudi Arabia as a cherished value of our foreign relations and international outlook. We believe that your strength is our strength,” the president said, adding he was confident that the feelings were mutual.

He expressed the hope that the Saudi king’s visit would provide new impetus to the multi-faceted cooperation between the two countries.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz also attended the banquet.—APP