- Advertisement -

Saudis confirmed Anwar's meeting with crown prince, says Wisma Putra

The foreign ministry says the polemics and 'unfounded perceptions' raised will not help efforts to dignify Malaysian diplomacy.

Staff Writers
3 minute read
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim with Islamic Development Bank group chairman Muhammad Al Jasser during his official visit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, March 23. Photo: Bernama
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim with Islamic Development Bank group chairman Muhammad Al Jasser during his official visit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, March 23. Photo: Bernama

Wisma Putra today broke its silence on the prime minister's official trip to Saudi Arabia, saying it had received diplomatic notes confirming Anwar Ibrahim's visit as well as a meeting with King Salman Abdul Aziz and the kingdom's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

In a statement detailing Anwar's visit from March 22 to 24, it said it had received a diplomatic note dated March 21 from the Saudi embassy, confirming the dates for Anwar's trip to the kingdom. 

"A similar diplomatic note was also received on the same day by the Malaysian embassy in Riyadh from the government of Saudi Arabia," it said. 

"Both diplomatic notes referred to the prime minister's official visit from March 22 to 25, including a courtesy visit programme with His Royal Highness King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, crown prince and prime minister of Saudi Arabia.

"They clearly stated that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomed the visit, including the performance of the umrah in Mecca and the pilgrimage in Madinah." 

Wisma Putra earlier said that the visit was at the invitation of Mohammed.

Questions were however raised by the opposition after Anwar's visit to the kingdom ended without a meeting with Mohammed or the king.

A Bernama report said the meeting could not take place because the crown prince had a change of plans ahead of the Ramadan month.

Anwar expressed regret that he had been unable to meet Mohammed, but was said to have turned down a request by Saudi officials to extend his stay so that a meeting with the crown prince could take place. 

Wisma Putra today said that it had made all arrangements early and in a professional manner, according to the SOPs for the official trips of leaders abroad. 

"Based on the journey and the results of the visit, the prime minister's official trip to Saudi Arabia illustrates the importance of diplomatic relations and cooperation between Malaysia and the kingdom," it said. 

"Malaysia has always considered Saudi Arabia a strategic partner. In this context, the foreign ministry insists that the polemics and unfounded perceptions by some for narrow political interests will not help its efforts to dignify Malaysian diplomacy, towards strengthening relations and cooperation with friendly countries around the world at the bilateral, regional and international levels."

It said the issue had cast in a negative light by certain groups, adding that this was unfair to both the ministry and government, as well as the foreign ministry and government of Saudi Arabia. 

It said its preparations for the visit had involved several series of discussions with the Saudi embassy in Kuala Lumpur, including a meeting with the kingdom's ambassador before a proposed date was set. 

It said the foreign minister had also spoken with his Saudi Arabian counterpart during his visit to Riyadh in February. 

"The talks touched on specifics on the prime minister's visit and the appropriateness of the dates as well as plans for the expected deliverables from the trip," it said. 

It also brushed off criticism on the timing of the visit at the start of the fasting month, saying this was not an issue on the Saudi Arabian side. 

"The ministry was informed that the government of Saudi Arabia adopts an open attitude and had received visits from foreign leaders during the month of Ramadan."

It added that Anwar and his entourage had been accorded full national guest status, including the provision of vehicles, accommodation and security coverage by the Saudi Royal Guard and protocol officers from the royal court. 

Noting the meetings Anwar had held, including with the president of the Islamic Development Bank, Wisma Putra said the prime minister's visit reflected Malaysia's commitment to boosting relations and cooperation between both countries to a stronger and more comprehensive level.