Pakistan PM Imran Khan arrives in Saudi Arabia for three-day visit

Agreements signed to improve ties between the two countries in first series of meetings

Pakistani leader will hold meetings with Saudi leadership over coming days

JEDDAH: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived Friday in Saudi Arabia ahead of a three-day visit to the Kingdom, on the invitation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khan was received in Jeddah by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Minister of Commerce, Acting Minister of Information, Dr. Majed Al-Qasabi and other officials on his arrival.

The two leaders then held a series of talks, during which they emphasized the depth of relations between the two brotherly countries and the importance of expanding bilateral cooperation and coordination in various fields.

They also “exchanged views and issues of concern to the two countries on the regional and international arenas, in a way that contributes to supporting and strengthening security and stability,” according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Jeddah on Friday, with other officials attending. (SPA)

Prime Minister Khan praised the leadership role of King Salman in promoting Islamic unity, and “the positive role of the Kingdom in resolving the issues facing the Islamic nation and its endeavors for regional and international peace and security,” SPA said.

It added that officials from both countries signed two agreements addressing the treatment of criminals, and crime.

They also agreed two memorandums of understanding around combating drug trafficking; as well as financing energy, infrastructure, transportation, water and communications projects.

Both countries also agreed to establish a higher coordination council.

SPA also reported that the two sides “discussed ways to strengthen and enhance economic and trade relations,” and “exploring areas of investment and opportunities available in light of the Kingdom’s vision 2030, and the development priorities in Pakistan.”

“The two sides stressed the need for concerted efforts by the Islamic world to confront extremism and violence and reject sectarianism, and strive to achieve international peace and security, and stressed the importance of continuing joint efforts to combat the phenomenon of terrorism that is not related to any religion, race or color, and to confront all its forms and images, regardless of its source.”

They also affirmed their full support for all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and their support for political solutions in Syria and Libya.

The two sides stressed the importance of reaching a comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis. They expressed concern over the ballistic missiles and drone attacks by Houthi militias on Saudi Arabia, threatening to the security of oil exports and the stability of energy supplies to the world.

In meetings with Saudi leadership over the coming days, Khan will cover all areas of bilateral cooperation including economics, trade, investment, environment, energy, job opportunities for the Pakistani workforce, and the welfare of the Pakistani diaspora in the kingdom, the Pakistani foreign office said.

The Pakistani leader will also meet the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, the Secretary General of the World Muslim League, Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, and the Imams of the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Medina.

Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, a Pakistani foreign office spokesman, told Arab News that the two sides are also expected to sign agreements on energy and infrastructure-related projects.

Energy, mutual trade growth and the welfare of overseas Pakistanis will top the diplomatic agenda on Khan’s visit.

Ahead of Khan’s arrival, the Pakistan Cabinet approved the establishment of a Supreme Coordination Council that will “remove hurdles” to $20 billion of investment deals signed during the crown prince’s visit to Pakistan in February 2019.

Khan will also meet with the Pakistani community in Jeddah during his stay there.

The Kingdom remains the largest source of overseas remittances to Pakistan, with Pakistani workers sending home $6.6 billion in the last fiscal year, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia has long been an important trade destination for Pakistan, and both countries are looking to boost imports and exports. Total trade volume stands at $3.6 billion, with imports from Saudi Arabia worth $3.2 billion and exports to the Kingdom worth $316.3 million, according to the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry.