Saudi King to visit Jakarta and Bali

JAKARTA • Saudi Arabia's King Salman will visit Jakarta and Bali on the Indonesian leg of his Asian tour next week, bringing 1,500 people in his entourage, including 10 ministers, Indonesian officials said.

"This is a very historic visit for us," Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung told reporters on Tuesday, adding that the King would be in Indonesia from next Wednesday to March 9. He would spend the last six days of his trip in Bali.

Mr Pramono said Indonesian President Joko Widodo hoped the visit would bring Saudi investments of up to US$25 billion (S$35.5 billion).

The last visit by a Saudi king to Indonesia was 46 years ago. Indonesia wants the visit to further cement relations between its state-owned energy company Pertamina and Saudi Aramco, which are working together to upgrade the Cilacap refinery, Indonesia's largest refinery complex, while eyeing other developments.

Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, hopes Saudi Arabia will help to promote moderate Islam through religious teaching and exchange programmes, Mr Pramono added.

Indonesia expects to sign agreements with Saudi Arabia to increase the frequency of flights from the Middle East to Indonesia. The longest leg of King Salman's trip to Asia this year will be in Indonesia, said Deputy Foreign Minister Abdurrahman Fachir. Indonesia wants to use the visit to increase its annual quota of haj pilgrims, and win commitments to improve the health and safety of pilgrims and other Indonesians in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is a major destination for Indonesian domestic workers, but Indonesia imposed a ban on new workers travelling to the Middle East in 2015 after two domestic workers were executed in Saudi Arabia.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2017, with the headline 'Saudi King to visit Jakarta and Bali'. Print Edition | Subscribe