Pkistan premier embarks on 3-day visit to Saudi Arabia

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday evening left for Saudi Arabia on a three-day visit, his office said.

Khan is visiting the kingdom on the invitation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office in Islamabad.

He is accompanied by a high-level delegation including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and other Cabinet members.

During his meeting with Saudi leadership, Khan will discuss all areas of bilateral cooperation, including economy, trade, investment, energy, and job opportunities for the Pakistani workforce, and welfare of the Pakistani diaspora.

“The two sides will also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest. A number of bilateral agreements/MoUs are expected to be signed during the visit,” according to the statement.

Pakistani premier will also meet with the Pakistani diaspora in Jeddah.

Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa is already in Saudi Arabia. He met with the crown prince in Jeddah ahead of Khan’s arrival and discussed matters of mutual interest, regional security, recent developments regarding the Afghan peace process, bilateral defense and security, as well as collaboration for regional peace and connectivity, according to the media-wing of the Pakistani military.

“COAS [Chief of Army Staff] said that Pakistan is resolute in its commitment to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of KSA [the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia] and defense of the two Holy Mosques,” said the military in its statement.

Bin Salman acknowledged Pakistan’s role towards regional peace and stability and said that the relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are based on bonds of brotherhood and mutual trust, and both nations will continue to play their part for peace, stability and improvement of Muslim Ummah, the statement also noted.

Meanwhile, during his stay in Saudi Arabia, Khan will also meet with Yousef Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the imams of the two holy mosques in Makkah and Medina.

The visits by Pakistan’s prime minister and army chief are viewed as part of ongoing efforts to mend ties between the two longtime allies, which have been strained in recent years by a series of events, including Pakistan’s refusal to join the Riyadh-led war in Yemen, and the kingdom’s lukewarm support for Islamabad’s stand on the long-standing Kashmir dispute.

In 2018, Saudi Arabia extended a $6 billion financial package to Pakistan to shore up its depleting foreign reserves. But relations deteriorated to the extent that Islamabad had to borrow $1 billion from Beijing to repay Riyadh a part of the soft loan. On previous occasions, Riyadh had either rolled over the loan or converted it into a grant.

Saudi Arabia is home to more than two million Pakistanis and remains the largest source of remittances to Pakistan.

Source: Anadolu Agency