Ahmadinejad To Visit Kingdom Tomorrow

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will arrive here tomorrow for talks with the Saudi leadership on a range of bilateral, regional and international issues.

Iranian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohammad Hosseini said that Ahmadinejad will mainly “discuss avenues for bolstering bilateral relations, the situation in the Middle East and the latest developments in the region and the world of Islam.”

The visit of the Iranian president comes ahead of an Arab summit in the Kingdom later this month. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah sent separate messages to Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas inviting them to attend the 19th Arab summit.

The message to the Iraqi president was delivered by Saud Al-Mathami, state minister, to Iraq’s Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi yesterday. Abdullah Zainal, state minister, handed the other message to President Abbas during a meeting in Amman, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Ahmadinejad will stay in Saudi Arabia for two days and his discussions will include the situation in Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. “The visit will further improve our relations, which are at a good level,” said Hosseini while expressing his concerns over the security and instability in the Middle East.

He said that the visit of the Iranian president is significant as “the two Islamic countries can play effective roles in resolving problems confronting the region and the Islamic world.”

Saudi and Iranian officials have met several times in recent weeks and an effort has also been made to mediate between the Lebanese government and opposition forces led by Hezbollah.

Referring to Saudi-Iranian relations, Hosseini said that the two countries have forged closer economic ties in recent years. The value of trade exchanges between the two countries exceeds $500 million annually, said the diplomat, but “this bilateral trade figure is very low considering the two countries’ political and economic power in the region.”

On the investment front, a total of 23 Iranian enterprises are active in the Kingdom, while two Saudi firms have invested in beverage, packaging, cement and auto parts in Iran.

He expressed hope that ties between Tehran and Riyadh, especially in political and commercial fields, would receive a further boost with the visit. Hosseini said that the two countries would have to play active roles in solving the regional problems that affect the fate of over 340 million people.

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