RIYADH: Interior Minister Rehman Malik handed over a message from President Asif Zardari to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Saturday. The unscheduled visit and presence of the cream of Saudi leadership at the meeting between Mr Malik and King Abdullah set off a wave of speculations in Riyadh. Some observers saw the occasion as an aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s killing while some others linked it to, what they said, was an effort by Washington to reset its ties with Islamabad and Riyadh in the wake of the Arab uprising.
The Saudi leaders who attended the meeting included Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal, Chief of General Intelligence Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, Secretary General of the National Security Council Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Minister of State and Commander of the National Guard Prince Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, Adviser to the King, Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Abdulaziz bin Ibrahim Al Ghadir.
Mr Malik was accompanied by Ayaz Mohammad Khan, Pakistan’s charge d’ affaires in Riyadh.
According to sources, the post-Osama scenario and recent developments were examined at length. The two sides pledged to stand by each other in times of need. They agreed to continue consulting and coordinating with each other on every major development.According to political analysts, an exchange of high-level visits in the weeks ahead cannot be ruled out.
The interior minister’s visit came at a time when fingers are increasingly being pointed in Washington towards Islamabad and its security apparatus over the presence of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. Some press reports over the past few days have indicated that Saudi Arabia and Turkey had tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to persuade Pakistan to hand over Osama bin Laden to the United States.