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Pak to discuss Kashmir with Saudi king

King Abdullah embarks on a historic five-nation tour to S Asia from Jan 21.

india Updated: Jan 12, 2006 19:58 IST

Pakistan plans to discuss its peace initiatives on Jammu and Kashmir with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz when he visits Islamabad after a historic trip to New Delhi.

Pakistani officials said they would take up the Kashmir issue with the king, and hope that Indian officials "will give importance to King Abdullah's views on Kashmir".

The Saudi king embarks on a five-nation tour from January 21. He will be the chief guest at India's Republic Day function January 26. It is the first time a Saudi monarch will visit India in five decades.

Pakistan is attaching great importance to the king's visit to South Asia.

"He is visiting the country on the invitation of President Pervez Musharraf," an official told the agency.

Muhsrraf had invited the king when he visited Saudi Arabia last month to attend the extraordinary Organisation of Islamic Conference summit.

Musharraf held a one-on-one meeting with the king in Makkah on the sidelines of the OIC summit. Musharraf briefed Abdullah on the peace parleys between India and Pakistan.

Apart from India and Pakistan, Abdullah will also visit China, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

"During his stay in Pakistan, King Abdullah will have extensive discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues," said the official. He said the Kashmir issue would also figure.

Foreign office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said the dates of the Saudi king's visit had not yet been firmed but it was expected to start February 1.

"Relations with Saudi Arabia are one of the fundamentals of Pakistan's foreign policy. It's a very unique and very special relationship."

Asked if the king was taking any proposal by Pakistan on Kashmir to India, she said: "Saudi Arabia has always stood by Pakistan."

Pakistan was not included in King Abdullah's itinerary until Musharraf's met him last month. "Musharraf not only invited the king but also advocated Saudi Arabia's role in bringing permanent peace to the (South Asian) region," an official said.

He said the king would "definitely take up the peace issue in India and Pakistan".

The official said since India wanted to improve relations with Saudi Arabia, "it will give importance to King Abdullah's views on Kashmir".

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are expected to sign at least three agreements for expansion of bilateral cooperation. The president will host a banquet in honour of the king.

First Published: Jan 12, 2006 19:57 IST