Saudi foreign minister to arrive in Pakistan on Thursday on maiden visit

Published December 25, 2019
Saudi FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud. — AFP/File
Saudi FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud. — AFP/File

Saudi Arabia's newly appointed foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud will arrive in Islamabad on Thursday on his maiden visit to the country, the Foreign Office announced.

He will hold a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and call on Prime Minister Imran Khan.

"This would be his maiden visit to Pakistan, during which the exchange of views would cover bilateral matters and regional issues of mutual interest," the FO statement issued on Wednesday said.

According to the FO, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy a "deep-rooted and longstanding fraternal relationship" and the two countries are committed to further strengthening bilateral cooperation in all fields.

"Frequent high-level visits are a key feature of the relationship and serve to further deepen and broaden mutual collaboration," the press release added.

Prince Faisal, with experience in Western capitals and loyalty to the powerful Saudi crown prince, was appointed as the kingdom's foreign minister in October.

A one-time adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and former ambassador to Germany, Prince Faisal replaced Ibrahim al-Assaf who was in the role for less than a year.

The Saudi foreign minister's visit comes days after Pakistan decided to stay away from the Kuala Lumpur summit of some 20 Muslim countries reportedly due to pressure exerted by Riyadh, which had extended a helping hand to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government during its early days to stave off an economic crisis.

Examine: Last-minute pull out of KL Summit reflects PM's Trumpian-style of dealing with foreign policy issues

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had confirmed that Saudi Arabia and the UAE had concerns about the summit, saying the two countries were worried that the event could cause “division in Ummah” and lead to setting up of an organisation parallel to the existing Saudi-dominated Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Turkish media later quoted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying that Prime Minister Imran had decided against attending the Malaysia summit because of Saudi Arabia's threats of economic sanctions, which allegedly included withdrawing money the kingdom has deposited in the State Bank of Pakistan and replacing Pakistani labour in Saudi Arabia with Bangladeshis.

The Saudi embassy in Islamabad had denied "information and fake news" that Riyadh had "pressurised and threatened" Pakistan to refrain from participating in the Kuala Lumpur summit, saying "the relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Islamic Republic of Pakistan are superior to the language of threat."

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