PETALING JAYA: Saudi officials confirmed that Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s trip to Saudi Arabia last week would include meetings with the country’s top two leaders, said the foreign ministry.
In a statement, Wisma Putra said the ministry received a diplomatic note from the Saudi Arabian embassy in Kuala Lumpur dated March 21 confirming the dates of Anwar’s official visit to Saudi Arabia from March 22 to 25.
“A similar diplomatic note was also received on the same date by the Malaysian embassy in Riyadh from the government of Saudi Arabia,” said Wisma Putra.
“The two diplomatic notes referred to the prime minister’s official visit from March 22 to 25, which included a courtesy call on King Salman Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, (who is also) the country’s prime minister.
“The two diplomatic notes clearly stated that Saudi Arabia welcomed the visit..,” said the statement, adding that diplomatic notes are among the “most official” communication channels between governments.
Wisma Putra said that while the Saudi Arabian government had wanted Anwar to extend his trip so that he could meet the Saudi leaders, Anwar had to turn down the offer as he had prior engagements.
Wisma Putra also said criticism of the trip was unfair to both country’s foreign ministries and governments as the issues that had been raised about the trip were “speculative” and a “deviation from facts”.
It stressed that the trip had been carefully planned since February, with the foreign ministers of both countries having discussed suitable dates and expected deliverables for Anwar’s trip.
Wisma Putra also said the Saudi government had no issue with Anwar’s visit coinciding with Ramadan, adding that this had been clearly communicated during discussions.
Anwar’s visit to Saudi Arabia has been described as a failure by certain quarters as he failed to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed.
Former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin yesterday said Anwar should not have visited Saudi Arabia if a meeting with King Salman or Crown Prince Mohammed was not set, describing the trip as a “huge diplomatic blunder”.
Khairy also said a prime minister would not visit another country unless a meeting with their counterpart had been scheduled.
The trip has also been panned by Bersatu’s Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal, who yesterday urged Anwar to explain how Malaysia benefitted from the visit.
The Machang MP also claimed that the snub could risk Malaysia’s haj quota and palm oil sales.
We are live on Telegram, subscribe here for breaking news and the latest announcements.