Landmark visit to Indonesia by King Salman will usher in new era: Envoy

Indonesian Ambassador Agus Maftuh Abegebriel. (Courtesy photo)
Updated 02 March 2017

Landmark visit to Indonesia by King Salman will usher in new era: Envoy

RIYADH: The landmark visit by King Salman to Indonesia beginning today, the first by a Saudi monarch since 1970, will usher in a new era of bilateral relations, Indonesian Ambassador Agus Maftuh Abegebriel told Arab News.
“King Salman is scheduled to tour Indonesia ... after the official visit of President Joko Widodo to the Kingdom in late 2015,” said Abegebriel.
“This historic visit is expected to mark a new level of relations between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia... in various fields and at all levels, including the government level as well as people-to-people exchange.”
He added: “Of all the fields of cooperation, I believe economic cooperation will be top of the list. This is in line with Saudi Vision 2030 and Indonesia’s priorities for economic cooperation. As members of the G20, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia have so much untapped potential in economic sectors, from trade and investments to the mining sector.”
Drafts of joint declarations, memoranda of understanding and agreements in various fields have been exchanged by the relevant ministries and institutions in both countries, including cooperation in the fields of trade, education, health, culture, information, science, technology, civil aviation, fisheries and combating transnational crimes, Abegebriel said.
“I think the fact that both governments are working as a team and hand-in-hand to make this visit a success in itself outweighs any agreement that may be signed thereof,” he added.
“I believe strategic and defense cooperation will be among the topics to be discussed... since Indonesia and Saudi Arabia signed a defense cooperation agreement in 2014, and it was discussed during the state visit of the president of the Republic of Indonesia in 2015.”
The envoy said the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), whose headquarters are in Riyadh and Jakarta respectively, have had relations since 1990.
There is a lot of potential in enhanced cooperation between the two regional blocs, in light of impressive growth in trade and investment between them in the past decade, he added.
“Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, being one of the key players in ASEAN and the GCC respectively, will surely take into account the potential between these two inter-governmental organizations and ways to further enhance relations,” he said.
As Indonesia sends the largest number of Haj pilgrims annually, on the increased Haj quota Abegebriel said Indonesia “conveys its highest appreciation” to King Salman “for continuous efforts in very successfully organizing the most important rituals in Islam.”
The envoy said bilateral bonds started in the 13th century, when Muslim traders and Islamic scholars from the Arab world arrived in the Indonesian archipelago.
“Take for example, the high number of Arabic words that have been immersed into the Indonesian language, or the ways of celebrating Islamic festivals. All these signify the strong bonds between the peoples of the two brotherly countries,” he added.
“I believe cultural cooperation, designed among other things to further promote people-to-people contact, is also on the table and currently being discussed by the relevant ministries of the two governments. This visit is an important showcase of how strong cultural relations have been, and will be, between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.”
King Salman decorated the Indonesian president with the prestigious King Abdul Aziz Medal when he visited the Kingdom in September 2015.
To welcome King Salman, the Indonesian government has made elaborate civil and security arrangements with the Transportation Ministry, issuing a notice to all stakeholders to facilitate the smooth arrival and stay for the monarch, who is also expected on a private family trip to the island of Bali during his tour of the archipelago.


GCC summit calls for greater economic and defense unity among Gulf countries 

Updated 10 December 2019

GCC summit calls for greater economic and defense unity among Gulf countries 

  • Heads of the delegations land in Riyadh before the 40th Supreme Council meeting gets under way
  • King Salman tells the summit that the GCC has overcome many crises in its history

RIYADH: The GCC summit called for greater regional economic and defense integration as the meeting chaired by King Salman came to a close in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The final statement, read by GCC General Secretary Abdullatif Al-Zayani, called for finalizing legislation for financial and monetary unity by 2025, according to the meeting's final communique.

The statement also called for boosting military and security cooperation to maintain regional security.

“The leaders of the GCC countries have affirmed today their keenness to preserve the strength, cohesion and strength of the GCC …  as an oasis of stability, security, economic prosperity and social peace,” the statement said.

It referred to attacks in the last year against Saudi Arabia, including coordinated missile and drone strikes against major oil facilities blamed on Iran.

The statement said the GCC states “stand unified against the attacks” and that this reflected the Gulf defense agreement that says “aggression against a member state would be considered as aggression against all the GCC states.”

“The highest goal of the Cooperation Council is to achieve coordination, integration and interdependence among the member states in all fields in order to reach their unity,” it said.

The 40th Supreme Council meeting was chaired by King Salman, who met the heads of each delegation as they landed.

They included the UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Oman's Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said and Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

In his opening remarks, King Salman said the GCC had managed to overcome many crises that the region has faced.

He said the current set of challenges “call for concerted efforts to confront them.”

“The Iranian regime continues its hostile actions to undermine security and stability and support terrorism,” the king said.

He said the GCC must “work with the international community to stop the interference of this regime, deal seriously with its nuclear program and the program to develop ballistic missiles.”

There was no mention in the final communique of the dispute between Qatar and other Gulf and Arab countries. 

But Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah was the most senior Qatari official to attend the GCC summit since 2017 - the same year Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt launched a boycott of Qatar over its links to extremist groups among other things.

Speaking after the meeting, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said: “The four countries (boycotting Qatar) continue to support the efforts of the Kuwaiti Emir and value their success.”

Al-Zayani, who is stepping down as secretary general, said all the GCC leaders had praised the efforts of the Emir of Kuwait in preserving the unity of the cooperation. 

At a preparatory meeting on Monday, Gulf foreign ministers approved the nomination of former Kuwaiti Finance Minister Nayef Al-Hajraf as the next secretary-general of the GCC.

His term will begin in April 2020 following the end of Al-Zayani’s term.