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Saudi King Arrives in Turkey; First Visit in 40 Years


King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia arrived in Turkey Tuesday for the first visit by a Saudi monarch in 40 years.

The king arrived at the Ankara airport for meetings on the Middle East situation and signing ceremonies for business and economic cooperation agreements.

Turkey's foreign minister met the Saudi king at Esenboga airport.

King Abdullah is to meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan before traveling to Istanbul to tour historic sites. The king's delegation includes 300 government ministers, businessmen and members of the royal family.

Saudi Arabia is a Sunni religious state while Turkey, although Muslim, is secular.

Mr. Erdogan is the first Turkish leader in modern times to emerge from a political party with roots in an Islamic movement.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia have traditionally been distant. In World War I, the House of Saud sided with Britain in defeating the Ottomans.

In the early 20th century, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk turned the country toward Europe and founded the current secular state.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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