KSA vows support for Afghan peace, security

Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani before talks in Riyadh on Sunday. (SPA)

Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani before talks in Riyadh on Sunday. (SPA)

Crown Prince Salman and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai discussed regional and bilateral issues during their meeting in Riyadh on Sunday. It was Afghan president’s first foreign visit since assuming office.

“The crown prince and the Afghan president discussed the whole range of issues with special reference to bilateral relations during the meeting,” said Sayed Ahmad Omarkhil, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Riyadh.

“The president and his accompanying delegation were welcomed by the crown prince at his palace,” the ambassador added.

During the meeting, they reviewed prospects for enhancing cooperation in all fields. Unfolding developments at regional and international level also figured at the talks, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Afghan president underlined the deep relations between the two countries and highly appreciated the support provided to Afghanistan by the Kingdom, SPA said.

President Ghani thanked the Kingdom for extending sincere cooperation in restoring peace and security in Afghanistan.

A luncheon was also hosted in his honor by Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin.

“Senior Saudi officials have assured us that the Kingdom will be closely working with the new Afghan government to ensure peace and security,” Omarkhil told Arab News.

The Afghan president was accompanied by a delegation of high-level government officials, including first Vice President Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum; Ghani’s special envoy for reform and better governance Ahmad Zia Massoud; Mohammad Hanif Atmar, national security adviser; acting Foreign Minister Zarar Ahmad Osmani; Ulema Council Chief Mawlavi Qeyamuddin Kashaf; Masoom Stanikzai, high peace council secretary; and presidential spokesman Nazifull Salarzai.

Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, speaker at Afghanistan’s lower house in the country’s National Assembly, also met with Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed, a Shoura Council speaker, and discussed various ways and means to enhance parliamentary relations between the two countries.

Ghani’s visit is also significant keeping in view the fourth ministerial conference of the Istanbul Process on Afghanistan, to be held in Beijing, China on Oct. 31.

Ghani was seen off at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh by Riyadh Gov. Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and several senior officials as he headed for Beijing.

Ghani took office on Sept. 29 after a prolonged election during which he promised that his first foreign trip would be to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, said a diplomat.

Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan have since long been close allies. Afghanistan attaches great importance to developing cooperation with Saudi Arabia at different economic, cultural and investment fields and at the bilateral, regional and international levels.

The Kingdom has pledged to provide Afghanistan with more than $475 million in aid and assistance, in addition to in-kind assistance and technical and academic aid.

Saudi Arabia is a major helper in Afghan reconstruction.

Afghanistan’s main highway project, for instance, is funded mainly by the US and Saudi Arabia.

The largest mosque in Afghanistan was also financed by Saudi Arabia.

 
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