Wisma Putra insists PM Anwar's visit to Saudi Arabia followed official SOP, pans Opposition for politicising trip

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s visit to Saudi Arabia earlier this week was arranged in accordance with the standard operating procedure involving formal state visits, Wisma Putra asserted today.

Responding to negative sentiments and unfounded speculation played up by certain quarters, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said early preparations between both countries and their respective embassies have taken place as early as February 19.

This is after minister Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir met with his Saudi counterpart in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to discuss possible visit dates and expected deliverables from the trip.

"Said discussions had highlighted the Saudi Arabian government's willingness to welcome and ensure the prime minister's visit was successfully held and achieve its intended target. The early dates proposed for the trip whether during or before Ramadan was a non-issue on the Saudi side as the issue had been clearly stated during the aforementioned meetings.

"We were also informed the Saudi Arabian government practised an open arm and had previously accepted visits from foreign leaders during Ramadan," it said in a statement here.

Wisma Putra further said that it received an official Diplomatic Note dated March 21, whereby the Saudi Arabian embassy confirmed the dates of the visit.

It said the same note was received by Malaysian diplomatic representatives in Riyadh as well where it referred to Anwar's March 22 to March 25 meeting with Saudi monarch King Salman Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud.

"Both Diplomatic Notes clearly stated the Saudi Arabian government's willingness for the intended state trip.

"It must be noted that the aforementioned notes are the most official means of communication between nations," the statement added.

The statement later outlined the chronology of events from Anwar's arrival on March 22 until his departure on March 25, including a request by Saudi Arabia to extend the trip from its original arrangement.

"The Malaysian delegation was informed to have the visitation extended to arrange for meetings between Saudi Arabia's top leadership but the request could not be fulfilled due to prior commitments from Anwar which has been scheduled before the visit.

"This included an Iftar ceremony with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara on March 25 and the prime minister's official visit to Cambodia on March 27," it said.

During the visit, Anwar and his delegation had a meeting with the Saudi Arabian business community at the headquarters of the Islamic Development Bank here.

Anwar also witnessed the signing of three memoranda of understanding between private companies in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

In a stern reminder, Wisma Putra said polemics and baseless claims by certain quarters for the sake of narrow political interests were not beneficial in the ministry's effort to strengthen Malaysia's diplomacy with its counterparts in the region and the world.

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal had last week called for Anwar to inform Parliament about the outcome of his official visit to Saudi Arabia after it appeared he did not meet with his counterparts there.

The Machang MP also said there were no reports of Anwar being invited to enter the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest site in Mecca, a customary honour Saudi Arabia typically gave to visiting heads of state, including Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during their visits there as PMs.