Jakarta-wapresri.go.id. Vice President Jusuf Kalla paid a courtesy call to the King of Saudi Arabia, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, on Friday night (Mar. 3) at the Raffles Hotel in Kuningan, Jakarta.

Upon his arrival at the hotel, the Vice President was welcomed by Saudi’s Minister of Islamic Affairs and Da’awa Guidance Sheikh Saleh bin Abdulaziz Alas-Sheikh.

Beginning the meeting, the Vice President told King Salman that the people of Indonesia are very enthusiastic to the king’s visit to the country. This, he added, showed the close relationship between the two countries.

The Vice President said, the cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, which are two large moderate Muslim countries and members of the G20 and the OIC, is important as it will benefit the two countries as well as the Ummah.

“We also expect the participation and support of Saudi Arabia in economic development for the welfare of the people,” he said.

The Vice President also appreciated King Salman’s efforts in promoting the Muslims, including the expansion of the Masjidil Haram (the Sacred Mosque) in Mecca so as to ease the Muslims going on pilgrimage to the holy land.

The Vice President then wished that Saudi would also give its support in realizing Islam as a religion that is rahmatan lil alamin, blessing for the universe.

In response, King Salman said, while in Indonesia, he felt like being in his own country.

He also praised the role of Indonesia in the international arena.

“We highly value and appreciate Indonesia in enhancing Islamic solidarity. We are ready to establish further cooperation with Indonesia, and pray for Indonesia to obtain the blessing of God Almighty. We also wish to encourage increased private sector cooperation and also the implementation of the agreements that have been signed earlier. There are no problems whatsoever in the bilateral relations between the two countries in general. We also want to build and improve the bilateral relations in all sectors,” said King Salman.

The king then explained, the expansion of the Masjidil Haram is part of his obligations as the “custodian of the two holy lands”.

“We will keep the Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina. Both places are sacred to all Muslims. To that end, we have carried out our responsibility to safeguard the security of all Muslims who come to the two places both as Hajj pilgrims and Umrah pilgrims. Hajj and Umrah are also a momentum for Muslims in Indonesia to visit Saudi and it also becomes an opportunity for Muslims in Indonesia and Saudi to know each other and to interact with each other,” he explained.

Concluding the meeting, the king said that this visit is a momentum to increase cooperation between the two countries as well as to show in particular to the Muslim community in Saudi that the relationship between the two countries has been very valuable.

Accompanying the Vice President in the meeting were Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, Minister for Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, the President’s Special Envoy to the Middle East and OIC Alwi Shihab, Head of the Secretariat of the Vice President Mohamad Oemar, and a Special Staff to the Vice President on Bureaucratic Reform Azyumardi Azra.