ANKARA, 9 August 2006 — The volatile situation in the Middle East caused by Israel’s massive military campaign against Lebanon and Palestine figured prominently in talks between Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Turkish President Ahmed Sezer and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan here yesterday. King Abdullah and President Sezer witnessed the signing of six landmark agreements to promote cooperation in political, economic, investment, transport and other areas. The signing ceremony took place at the Presidential Palace.

King Abdullah and President Sezer emphasized the need for bringing about an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon to protect the lives of civilians dying as a result of Israeli onslaughts every hour, the Saudi Press Agency said.

Abdullah, the first Saudi king to visit Turkey in 40 years, arrived here yesterday afternoon, accompanied by a delegation of high-ranking officials and Saudi businessmen.

Turkish Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Ankara City Mayor Melih Gokcek greeted the Saudi king at the airport. Later, President Sezer received the king at the Presidential Palace.

Sezer said it was the first official visit of a Saudi king to Turkey. He said Ankara was attaching great importance to improving its relations with Saudi Arabia. In his reply, Abdullah emphasized the historic relations between the two countries: “Our relations are getting stronger and closer.”

The Saudi-Turkish summit talks also focused on the need to combat international terrorism, stand on Iraq, rights of Muslim minorities in Europe and the role of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in protecting them, and the Cyprus issue.

“Turkey attaches great importance to the visit and we see it as a turning point in relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia,” Gul said to Arab News.

“King Abdullah’s talks with the Turkish president focused on regional and bilateral issues with special reference to Lebanon and Iraq. More talks on bilateral and regional subjects will follow during the next two days of stay of the king and his delegation.”

The Kingdom and Turkey established diplomatic relations way back in 1929 following the signing of a treaty of friendship and peace. This is the second visit of Abdullah to Turkey, but the first by a Saudi king in 40 years. King Faisal visited Ankara to attend a summit of the OIC. Abdullah visited Turkey in 1984 when he was the crown prince.

During the last few years, Riyadh and Ankara intensified their efforts to boost bilateral links in different sectors. And this visit of the king, Saudi and Turkish officials said, is the result of these efforts.

The Turkish deputy premier said that the visit of King Abdullah would be a major step forward in bilateral relations.

About the agreements signed here yesterday, Gul said that these six agreements symbolize the progressively growing relations between the two countries.

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal and Abdullah Gul signed the first agreement — a memorandum of understanding to hold periodic bilateral political consultations. This will ensure regular talks between the officials of the foreign ministries of the two countries on subjects of bilateral, regional and international importance.

State Minister Prince Abdul Aziz ibn Fahd signed another deal to forge cooperation between the Kingdom’s National Center of Documents and Archives and Turkey’s General Directorate of State Archives.

Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf signed an investment promotion and protection agreement with Minister of Treasury Ali Babacan.

Three more agreements related to avoidance of double taxation and promoting cooperation in the health and transport sectors were also inked. Later in the night, King Abdullah held talks with Prime Minister Erdogan.

Some of the businessmen accompanying the king went for holding individual meetings before they assemble for a major businessmen’s conference in Istanbul tomorrow in the presence of King Abdullah.

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