London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz received a ceremonial welcome yesterday from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
The Queen greeted King Abdullah on the Horse Guards Parade in a ceremonial welcome that included a 21-gun royal salute and a military guard of honor review. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells also attended the ceremony.
King Abdullah then joined Queen Elizabeth for a state carriage procession to Buckingham Palace, where she hosted a state banquet in his honor. The King is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Brown for talks tomorrow.
While in London, King Abdullah received a telephone call from President George W. Bush. They discussed regional and international issues, particularly the situation in the Middle East, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Saudi King is to meet with Prime Minister Gordon Brown today to discuss counter-terrorism, Iran, the Middle East peace process, Iraq and Lebanon.
A spokeswoman for Brown’s Downing Street office has previously said the prime minister would “raise issues he believes to be appropriate”.
The Saudi monarch’s role in the Middle East peace process has been key, as the country held an Arab summit in Riyadh in March to present the Arab peace initiative to Israel.
The five-year-old Saudi-authored blueprint offers Israel peace and normal ties if it withdraws from all land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and allows the creation of a Palestinian state and return of Palestinian refugees.
King Abdullah is also to meet with Prince Charles and opposition Conservative Party leader David Cameron.
Saudi Arabia is a key British ally in the Middle East, both politically and commercially, as a vital source of oil and with booming British exports to the kingdom worth 4.4 billion pounds last year.
King Abdullah is set to visit Italy, Germany and Turkey after leaving London Thursday.