September 30, 2014
(KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to perform the annual hajj pilgrimage, the state news agency said.
He was received at the coastal city of Jeddah by the emir (prince) of Mecca province, Mashaal bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, along with members of the Sudanese embassy and Khartoum’s Hajj mission there.
Later that day, Bashir met with Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defence.
According to Sudanese state minister at foreign ministry Mohamed Obeildalla told state news agency (SUNA) that the meeting was characterized by openness, intimacy and magnanimity adding that it put relations between the two countries on a new path leads to strengthening ties.
Obeildalla said that the Crown Prince stressed his extreme keenness on stability of the situation in Sudan and Saudi Arabia’s readiness to support Sudan in all fields whether in political, security or economic.
He said that the two sides stressed that irrespective of how different their political assessment of what is happening in the region is, there must be an exchange of information and pursuit of political stability and security in the region.
This is the first meeting between the Sudanese leader and a senior Saudi official since 2012. It is not clear if he will meet with the Saudi king.
Last year, Bashir performed Hajj but did not meet with King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz during the visit, despite the Saudi monarch holding separate talks with the Turkish and Pakistani presidents who also performed Hajj.
Over the few years there have been mounting signs of deteriorating relations between Khartoum and Riyadh.
In August 2013, Saudi Arabia closed its airspace to the plane carrying Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir on his way to Iran where he was scheduled to attend the inauguration ceremony of president-elect Hassan Rouhani thus forcing him and his delegation to return home.
Saudi Arabia denied that the incident was politically motivated and insisted that Bashir’s plane did not seek prior clearance despite Sudanese insistence to the contrary.
Sudan has regularly allowed Iranian warships to dock in Port Sudan across Saudi Arabia drawing concern by the United States and its allies in the Gulf.
Observers speculated that Sudan’s growing ties with Iran could have irked the Saudis prompting them to block Bashir’s flight.
However, earlier this month Sudanese authorities ordered the closure of Iranian cultural centre in the capital Khartoum, and other states in a move which was seen as gesture to the Arab Gulf states.