Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz arrived in Rome today for a state visit to Italy. The King was greeted at the airport by Prime Minister Romano Prodi and a number of Italian officials with a red carpet welcome.
King Abdullah’s visit to Italy the second stop on a tour that began with a visit to Britain and will also include Germany and Turkey.
Tomorrow, the King will hold talks with Prime Minister Prodi and Pope Benedict XVI. During the visit, a number of bilateral agreements are expected to be signed in the areas of health, higher education, technical and vocational training and counterterrorism.
Saudi-Italian relations date back to 1932, when Italy opened a consulate in Jeddah. Today, Italy is one of Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partners. In 2006, Saudi imports from Italy totaled $2.6 billion, while its exports reached $5.3 billion. In addition, a large number of Saudi students are pursuing academic studies in Italy.
King Abdullah last visited Italy in 1999 as Crown Prince. In April 2007, Prime Minister Prodi visited Saudi Arabia for talks with King Abdullah about the Middle East peace process, the situation in Iraq and bilateral cooperation.