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Saudi king urges fight against terrorism on Indonesia trip

JAKARTA: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman called on Thursday for a united fight against terrorism in a speech to Indonesia’s parliament during a landmark state visit to the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

The king is making the first visit by a Saudi monarch to Indonesia in almost 50 years as part of a tour of Asia, accompanied by a 1,000-strong delegation and hundreds of tons of luggage.

In a speech to hundreds of people at the legislature in the capital Jakarta, he called for an intensified fight against terrorism.

“The challenge we, especially Muslims, face now is terrorism,” he said. “We should close ranks in combating terrorism, radicalism and strive to bring world peace for the benefit of all of us.”

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Saudi Arabia is part of a US-led coalition that has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) group and other militants in Syria.  IS is under pressure in Iraq and Syria, as government forces make a drive to retake areas held by the militants.

Saudi Arabia has witnessed a series of deadly attacks claimed by IS since late 2014, mostly targeting the Shia minority and security forces, killing dozens of people.

However, some of the kingdom’s partners in the Middle East have urged the country to do more to defeat them.

Indonesia, which has long struggled with militancy, is also facing a renewed threat due to the appeal of IS, with hundreds of its citizens heading to the Middle East to fight with the militants.

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A gun and suicide attack in Jakarta in January last year that killed four civilians and four attackers was the first assault claimed by IS in Southeast Asia.

On Thursday King Salman also visited Jakarta’s Istiqlal mosque, the biggest in Southeast Asia, accompanied by President Joko Widodo, and the leaders prayed together.

The king and his entourage will be in Jakarta until Friday, after which they will head to the resort island of Bali for a holiday.

Salman’s three-week Asian tour is seeking investment opportunities as the world’s top oil exporter looks to diversify its economy. He began the trip in Malaysia earlier this week and is also set to visit Japan, China and the Maldives.



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