British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his accompanying delegation left from King Abdul Aziz International Airport today after a short state visit to the Kingdom. Prime Minister Blair was received at the royal palace in Jeddah yesterday by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz, to whom he conveyed greetings from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and Heir Apparent Prince Charles. During the meeting, the firm bilateral relations between the two friendly countries were discussed, as was an overview of developments at the international level. The audience was attended by Deputy Chief of Public Intelligence Prince Saud Ibn Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz, Saudi Ambassador to the United States of America Prince Bandar Ibn Sultan Ibn Abdul Aziz, Advisor to the Royal Court Prince Abdulaziz Ibn Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz, Head of the Royal Court Mohammed Al-Noweiser, Minister of State Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Khuweiter, Minister of Industry and Electricity Dr. Hashim Abdullah Yamani, Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, and British Ambassador to the Kingdom Andrew Green.
Official Saudi-British talks were held yesterday under the co-chairmanship of Crown Prince Abdullah Ibn Abdul Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and Commander of the National Guard, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest were discussed, as well as international developments in general. The Saudi side was comprised of Interior Minister Prince Nayef Ibn Abdul Aziz, Minister of State Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Khuweiter, Minister of Commerce Osama Jaafar AL-Faqih, Minister of Industry and Electricity Dr. Hashim Abdullah Yamani and Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi.
Prime Minister Blair was quoted in the Arabic daily Okaz as attaching great importance to his visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which he considers one of the U.K.'s closest and oldest friends in the region and its biggest trade partner in the Middle East, and described relations between the two countries as firm and deep-rooted, confirming that consolidation of these ties would be on his agenda with senior Saudi officials. Prime Minister Blair went on to indicate that the United Kingdom would, in its capacity as current president of the European Union, host a meeting of GCC foreign ministers with their European counterparts, and reiterated that Europe would play a key role in pushing forward the Middle East peace process.