Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz was at King Abdul Aziz Airport in Jeddah on Saturday to welcome President Mohammed Khatami of the Islamic Republic of Iran on a five-day state visit to the Kingdom. President Khatami is accompanied by a delegation that includes the Iranian ministers of foreign affairs, commerce, and petroleum.
Official talks began on Saturday, under the co-chairmanship of King Fahd and President Khatami. They covered bilateral relations and developments in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Later, King Fahd hosted a dinner party in honor of the visiting Iranian president.
Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, describing Saturday's meeting between King Fahd and President Khatami as historic, noted that the two leaders had expressed satisfaction over the development of Saudi/Iranian relations, which will have a positive impact not only on Saudi Arabia and Iran and the Gulf region, but on all Muslim countries. Prince Saud Al-Faisal went on to say of his own talks yesterday with President Khatami: "Our points of views were identical on most of the topics that we discussed, and it is hoped that Saudi/Iranian contacts will continue for the benefit of our mutual interests."
President Khatami also met in Jeddah yesterday with Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi. Attending the meeting were the Iranian oil minister and the Saudi and Iranian governors of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Afterwards, Minister Al-Naimi stated that Saudi Arabia and Iran are in full agreement on the issue of market prices and production levels. He made reference to the latest OPEC agreement regarding adherence to production quotas, and how this has resulted in the current relative stability.
Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, met in Jeddah with President Khatami, in an open round of official talks attended by Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation and Inspector-General, and a number of princes and ministers. President Khatami later held a meeting at his guest residence in Jeddah with Minister of Commerce Osama Jaafar Faqih, attended by the Iranian commerce minister.
President Khatami also met yesterday with the ambassadors of Islamic countries accredited to the Kingdom. Declaring that Islamic interests are in first place in Iran's priorities, he emphasized the important role of ambassadors in strengthening relations among countries, and remarked that the world of today is badly in need of understanding and friendship. He told the ambassadors that Iran's long experience of challenges, wars, conflicts and losses, have provided its people with the good lesson that nothing is better than solving problems on the bases of dialogue and the creation of common factors. He called for complete rejection of racism and fanaticism, and advocated justice, the lack of which, he said, has been the origin of many wars and much bitterness. Praising the role of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), he referred to its most recent Islamic Summit, which was held in Tehran and which led to tremendous rapprochement and understanding among past rivals and enemies.
Yesterday evening, Iranian President Mohammed Khatami performed the minor pilgrimage of umrah and today toured the expansion project of the Holy Mosque in Makkah accompanied by Minister of State and cabinet member Dr. Mutlab Al-Nafeesa.