Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz met with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for official talks today. During the meeting at 10 Downing Street, the two leaders discussed key issues including counterterrorism, Iran, the Middle East peace process, Iraq and Lebanon. Areas of Saudi-British cooperation were also discussed.
Today is the final day of King Abdullah’s state visit to Britain, the first by a Saudi King in 20 years. Yesterday, the King enjoyed an official ceremonial welcome from Queen Elizabeth II, including a 21-gun royal salute, an honor guard inspection, and a carriage ride to Buckingham Palace.
Last night, Queen Elizabeth hosted a state dinner in honor of her royal guest. In remarks on the occasion, King Abdullah praised the longstanding Saudi-British relationship and expressed the hope that his visit would deepen cooperation between the two countries.
The King warned of increasing conflicts that threaten global stability. “Signs of war and conflicts emerge in many places of the world, and in front of these increased risks, we must opt for wisdom and courage so as not to allow things to slip to the brink of the abyss,” he said at the banquet. “Every dispute, whichever its complications, could be resolved if we deal it with a spirit of justice and equity.”
The King also lauded the British spirit of tolerance and urged British Muslims to represent the true principles of Islam. “I like to take this opportunity to call on my brothers – the Muslims in Britain – to be good Muslims and to be at the same time, good citizens seeking the good and survival of the earth in order to project a true picture of the principles of Islam, its timeless principles of love, compassion and moderation,” the King said.
In an interview with the London-based Sharq Al-Awsat published today, Prime Minister Brown said that King Abdullah’s visit is a great opportunity to discuss global challenges that require international cooperation, such as world trade, extremism, nuclear proliferation, conflict resolution and climate change.
The prime minister praised Saudi Arabia’s leadership in efforts to resolve crises including Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Iran’s nuclear file.
“We have benefited most from Saudi Arabia’s viewpoints and initiatives in this respect,” Brown told Sharq Al-Awsat. “We consider very significant, the existing strong working relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on these issues.”
He stressed that the Saudi-proposed Arab Peace Initiative remains an important framework for achieving a just and lasting peace in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.