Malaysia rolls out red carpet as Saudi king kicks off Asia tour

King Salman is accompanied by 600-strong delegation to Malaysia where cooperation on energy will be on agenda


Reuters February 26, 2017
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman inspects a guard of honour at the Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR/DUBAI: Malaysia welcomed Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Sunday for the start of a rare, month-long Asian tour, where the kingdom will build ties and seek to draw more investments to the oil-rich gulf nation.

The visit is the first by a Saudi king to Malaysia in more than a decade, as the Arab nation courts Asian investors for the sale of a 5% stake in state firm Aramco in 2018, expected to be the world’s biggest IPO.

Malaysian state television on Sunday showed live footage of the octogenarian king descending from his plane on an escalator flown in with his delegation.

He was received by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak before being whisked away in a heavily guarded convoy for a state ceremony at Malaysia’s parliament grounds.

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The leader was greeted in parliament with a 21-gun salute, local media reported. King Salman also plans to visit Indonesia, Brunei, Japan, China, the Maldives and Jordan “to meet with the leaders of those countries to discuss bilateral relations and regional and international issues of common concern”, a royal court statement carried on Saudi Arabia's state media SPA reported.

Government sources with knowledge of the visit said a 600-strong delegation will accompany the king on his four-day visit to Malaysia, where cooperation on energy developments will be on the agenda.

State oil firm Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and Saudi Aramco will sign an agreement on Tuesday to collaborate in Malaysia’s Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project, a boost for the Southeast Asian economy which has been reeling under weak global oil prices.

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Relations between the two countries have been in the spotlight over the last two years after Saudi Arabia was dragged into a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal at Malaysian state fund 1MDB, founded by Najib.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing in the money-laundering case which is now being investigated by several countries including the US Switzerland and Singapore.

A Malaysian government inquiry found that nearly $700 million transferred to the prime minister’s bank account in 2013 was a donation from the Saudi royal family and most of it was returned.

The last time a Saudi king visited Malaysia was in 2006, when King Abdullah, King Salman’s half-brother and predecessor, flew in with a 300-member delegation.

COMMENTS (1)

t t | 4 years ago | Reply I am looking forward to the results of such a remarkable visit. The Kingdom is developing in so many ways, especially after their 2030 plan. I am sure that these Asian countries are going to benefit from such plan, after all the King himself is visiting.
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