ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that strength of close brotherly ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are based on love and affection between the people of the two countries. The people of Pakistan, he said, have great regards for the leadership of Saudi Arabia being the custodians of the two holy mosques. Talking to Prince Bander Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, Secretary General National Security Council of Saudi Arabia, who called on him at the Prime Ministers House here Saturday evening, Premier Gilani said that people of Pakistan had great regard for the leadership of Saudi Arabia. The Prime Minister said that on all regional and international fora Pakistan had stood and would stand with Saudi Arabia in the interest of peace. Pakistan, he mentioned, understands and supports the Saudi stance on the Gulf and Middle East. Pakistan, he added, believes in strengthening its strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia and desires to further expand the scope of bilateral relations. The Prime Minister, while underlining the importance of relations with Saudi Arabia, said that it was the first country he visited after taking over as the Prime Minister. The love and affection of his majesty King Abdullah and the people of Saudi Arabia extended to him during the visit, he said, is still fresh in his mind. The Prime Minister thanked Saudi Arabia for the help and assistance given to Pakistan during difficult times particularly during the floods last year and earlier after the 2005 earthquake. While deliberating upon the menace of terrorism, the Prime Minister emphasised on adoption of a common strategy by all the concerned countries in order to affectively check and eliminate this common enemy. On Afghanistan, the Prime Minister mentioned that peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in the larger economic interest of the region. Pakistan, he added, supports Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process to ensure peace and security, which would lead to socio-economic progress of the people of the entire region. Prince Bander Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud said that Saudi government and people had great respect, regard and love for the government and people of Pakistan. Saudi Arabia, he said, considers Pakistan as a close strategic partner and holds the leadership of Pakistan in high esteem. Saudi Arabia feels that our people are so close that they can termed as one nation, he added. He recollected his meetings with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed when she became the prime minister and even later as most memorable ones. He said that her death was a great loss to the Islamic world. Prince Bander Bin Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud briefed the Prime Minister on the Saudi perception of the situation in the Gulf and Middle East and their stance on the current political developments in the region. The socio-economic difficulties in some areas of the Gulf and Middle East, he said, affected the political environment. The process of dialogue started in some Gulf countries, he mentioned, has helped understand the problems of the people. Dialogue and reconciliation, he added, is the only mean to move forward. He expressed confidence that the economic packages announced during the recent GCC meeting would help bring about peace, prosperity and economic development of the entire region. The Secretary General, National Security Council of Saudi Arabia, further said that Saudi Arabia looked forward to increased across the board cooperation between the two brotherly countries. Saudi Arabia, he reaffirmed, will always stand with Pakistan to confront any challenge and support any initiative to further expand the bilateral ties. Our thinking and approach on international issues have remained the same and would continue in future as well, he added. The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Secretary Foreign Affairs, Secretary Interior, Additional Secretary Defence and senior officials of security agencies.