ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif on Tuesday left for Saudi Arabia for a three-day visit — his first overseas trip since assuming command in November — for pushing plans for a “new era in strategic partnership” between the two countries.
During his stay in the kingdom, Gen Sharif will meet King Abdullah and top Saudi military commanders.
His discussions in Saudi Arabia, a military spokesman said, would focus on defence and security cooperation though he is expected to talk about the whole gamut of Pak-Saudi ties.
The spokesman said Gen Sharif had been invited by the Saudi authorities for the visit.
Pakistan Army has always had excellent relations with the Saudi leaders. The two maintained same level of relationship even during the five years of PPP government during which the political ties apparently remained rather cold.
However, a new momentum in the ties is visible since the change in the government and more importantly after the visit of Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal to Islamabad last month. The foreign minister’s visit was immediately followed by Saudi deputy defence minister’s extensive trip in which he explored the opportunities for expanding defence cooperation.
The deputy defence minister had led a 17-member team on the exploratory visit.
Though, no new defence deal between Riyadh and Islamabad has been struck as yet, but there are indications that the two are interested in expanding cooperation in the fields of training, military exchanges, and sale/purchase of defence hardware.