Nawaz to leave for KSA tomorrow on first official visit since taking office

March 03, 2015

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In this picture, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud upon the latter's arrival at the PM House in Islamabad on February 17, 2014. – AFP/File
In this picture, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud upon the latter's arrival at the PM House in Islamabad on February 17, 2014. – AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif will be visiting Saudi Arabia between March 4 to March 6 on the invitation of King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said the premier will be accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi.

"This will be his first official visit to the kingdom after he assumed the premier's office in 2013," she said.

The prime minister is scheduled to hold talks with King Salman, perform Umrah and visit Madinah to offer prayers at Masjid-e-Nabvi during his three-day visit.

The spokesperson said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are tied in close fraternal bonds of shared faith and values.

"Being the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques, the King of Saudi Arabia has a special place in the hearts of every Pakistani," Aslam said.

"Saudi Arabia also hosts more than 1.7 million Pakistanis whose remittances contribute substantially to the economy of Pakistan. Annual trade volume between the two countries exceeds US$ 4.5 billion."

It is hoped that PM Nawaz's official visit will provide an opportunity for the leadership of the two countries to discuss issues of mutual interest in the global and regional context which will further strengthen their existing bilateral relations.

Saudis have been extremely disturbed over allegations in Pakistan about funding from the Kingdom for extremist and terrorist groups.

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The Saudi embassy had, in an unprecedented move, tried to clarify its position a fortnight ago. But instead of ending the row, it led to a low-key spat between the embassy and the Foreign Office.

Examine: Saudi Arabia denies funding 'extremist mindset' in Pakistan

In a veiled rebuttal to embassy’s claim that Kingdom’s funding of seminaries was cleared by the Foreign Office, the spokesperson of the Foreign Office had said that only, “Offers of economic assistance and project based assistance by Saudi Arabia are processed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in consultation with the relevant departments and agencies of the Government of Pakistan.”

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