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PM Khan to attend investment conference in Saudi Arabia next week

Updated October 19, 2018

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Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Saudi Arabia to attend FIIC next week. — Photo/File
Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Saudi Arabia to attend FIIC next week. — Photo/File

Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Saudi Arabia to attend the Future Investment Initiative Conference (FIIC) on the "special invitation of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz", according to a Foreign Office (FO) statement issued on Friday.

The premier is expected to travel to Riyadh on October 23 to participate on the first of the two-day conference. The conference, which will host businessmen and "representatives of hi-tech industry" from around the world, will serve as an "opportunity to interact with important business leaders who are interested in investing in Pakistan", the statement said.

"Prime Minister Imran Khan’s participation in first day of the conference is aimed at projecting Pakistan’s economic and investment potential and the [premier's] vision of the country in the five years to come," the press release read.

PM Khan will also meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to discuss "matters of mutual interest".

The prime minister's participation in the conference signifies Pakistan's "solidarity with the Kingdom in its efforts to become emerging hub of international business and investment", the press statement said.

This will be PM Khan's second visit to Saudi Arabia since he assumed office. The tour comes as Pakistan continues to court “friendly” nations in search of billions of dollars to shore up its deteriorating finances as it faces a balance of payment crisis and upcoming talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a potential bailout.

PM Khan's government has sought loans from allies such as China and Saudi Arabia, promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials, and embarked on a series of high-profile populist austerity measures.

But help has been in short supply and economists' warnings have grown increasingly urgent.

The visit also comes as Pakistan's central bank warned this week that inflation would likely double in the coming year — hitting 7.5 per cent — while the country's growth target rate of 6.2 per cent would likely be missed.

Controversial conference

The FIIC, which comes amid the chaos following Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's disappearance, has been boycotted by United Kingdom, United States and France.

Pakistan briefly weighed in on the incident earlier this month, calling on Turkey and Saudi Arabia “to jointly address the matter”.