President Ilham Aliev of Azerbaijan is on an official visit to Saudi Arabia. On Sunday, President Aliev was welcomed at Riyadh's Royal Airport by the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, King Salman ibn Abdul Aziz and other officials. Later President Aliev had a private meeting with the King, and after met other Saudi Ministers and officials.
Aliev's visit is the latest in a series of high level contacts between Azerbaijan and the countries of the Gulf Region. A few days ago, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maqtoum was in Baku on an official visit, and there have also been high level bilateral exchanges with Qatar and Kuwait.
Commonspace.eu political editor said that "the visit indicates a high level of political and economic engagement between the two countries, and these contacts are well in line with Azerbaijani policy of diversifying its foreign policy beyond its traditional areas of interest in the CIS and in Europe. As an oil exporting country Azerbaijan is also keen to harmonise its position with that of the Saudi led OPEC organisation and the two sides would have exchanged views on the current situation in the oil markets.
Azerbaijan is also a member of the Organisation for Islamic Co-operation, which has its headquarters in Jeddah. The visit comes also at a very significant time for Saudi Arabia. King Salman has only been on the throne for several weeks and he has already moved fast to leave his mark on both the Saudi and the region's system. In recent days Saudi Arabia launched a military offensive in neighbouring Yemen - a high profile and risky venture for which the Saudi leadership is keen to secure the support of other Muslim countries. With its predominantly Muslim Shia population Azerbaijan is a country that Saudi Arabia wishes to court at this time. The fact that King Salman was on hand at Riyadh airport to welcome the Azerbaijani President is a sign that the Kingdom attaches importance to this relationship."
photo: King Salman ibn Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia welcomes President Ilham Aliev of Azerbaijan at Riyadh's Royal airport on Sunday, 5 April 2015 (picture courtesy of the Press Service of the president of Azerbaijan).