Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday said Pakistan has asked the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a deferred payment facility for the import of oil, similar to the one agreed with Saudi Arabia earlier this week.
Qureshi said this while addressing a press conference in Islamabad, during which he briefed the media about a meeting earlier in the day between Prime Minister Imran Khan and a high-level delegation led by UAE Minister of State Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber.
The minister said the UAE delegation is visiting Pakistan under the aegis of UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to discuss mutually beneficial projects which both countries can undertake.
"The delegation said bilateral relations between Pakistan and UAE are decades old, but there was a dip in the last 4-5 years," Qureshi said. "In today's meeting, we have discussed measures to expand the economic side of our longstanding bilateral ties."
"First, in the agriculture sector, we have discussed how we can increase exports to the UAE. We have an exportable surplus in rice which we used to export [to the country], but our exports have decreased considerably in the last few years."
"In fruits, I discussed with them the export of citrus and mangoes. We have both in abundance and there is a demand in UAE too. Due to our proximity, we can easily export these despite them being perishable items," the foreign minister said, adding that the UAE has an "effective way of processing and packaging food, so we have decided to benefit from their expertise".
The foreign minister further said that the matter regarding setting up a state-of-the-art LNG terminal in Pakistan with UAE's cooperation was also discussed during the meeting. The Emirati delegation has expressed interest in setting up an LNG terminal in Pakistan," he said.
Qureshi said a member of Emirati real estate company Emaar was also part of the delegation. "We told them that the government was planning to build five million houses and asked if they could be of any help in this regard," the foreign minister said.
"Another issue which we are facing these days is that of water shortage. UAE holds expertise in water desalination and if they could invest in setting up a plant in Karachi or Gwadar, our water crisis will be resolved and it will be a massive development," Qureshi said.
Foreign diplomatic postings
Referring to Pakistan's foreign policy, the foreign minister said Pakistan is pursuing its policy with other countries based on mutual benefits and national interest.
In order to make the foreign policy stronger and robust, it has been decided to appoint professional diplomats in key foreign capitals, the minister said.
Qureshi said Nafees Zakaria, who is currently serving as Pakistan's High Commissioner to Malaysia, will be posted to London as the High Commissioner.
Raza Sher Tarar will be appointed Pakistan High Commissioner to Ottawa, Canada, he announced, adding that Raja Ali Ijaz will be posted as Pakistan High Commissioner to Saudi Arabia.
Commenting on the prime minister's upcoming visit to China, Qureshi said Imran Khan will call on senior Chinese leaders besides participating and delivering a keynote address at an international expo.