Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud has arrived in Malaysia as part of a rare month-long tour of Asia. The monarch from the Sunni powerhouse will spend four days in the country.
In the first such visit by a Saudi king in more than a decade, he was accorded a state welcome at Malaysia's Parliament Square. The country's prime minister, the deputy premier and several members of the cabinet officially welcomed Salman at the ceremony. Malaysia is the first country in south-east Asia the octogenarian is visiting since he took over in January 2016.
"We confirm that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands with all its might behind the Islamic causes in general and we are fully ready for assistance and cooperation with your sisterly country as regards any effort or movement that serves Muslims' issues," said the Saudi leader.
Salman will later visit Indonesia, Brunei, Japan, China, the Maldives and Jordan. He hopes to address a series of challenges faced by the Muslim world during his visit seen as a strategic one.
"We are also proud that Saudi Arabia and Malaysia have cooperated so strongly to maintain the well-being of, and provide leadership for, the ummah," said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Riyadh is Malaysia's second largest trading partner in the Middle East.
While speaking about boosting cooperation between Malaysia and the Middle East's Sunni heavyweight, Kuala Lumpur's ambassador to Riyadh Zainol Rahim Zainuddin was quoted as saying: "The close brotherly relations between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia have been longstanding since we established relations 60 years ago in 1957, when Malaysia gained its independence. Saudi Arabia was among the first countries that recognised Malaysia's independence. There are avenues to increase economic cooperation particularly in trade and investment."
Agreements on economy and education are expected to be signed during the visit.