Newly appointed Saudi FM meets counterpart Qureshi, PM Imran during one-day visit

Published December 26, 2019
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi bids farewell to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, who came to Pakistan on a one-day visit. — Photo provided by Naveed Siddiqui
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi bids farewell to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, who came to Pakistan on a one-day visit. — Photo provided by Naveed Siddiqui

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud departed Pakistan on Thursday after meeting his counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Prime Minister Imran Khan on his one-day maiden visit to Islamabad.

A lunch was hosted by Qureshi for Prince Faisal and the Saudi delegation after the meetings.

The Saudi foreign minister had arrived at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) earlier today, where he was received by Foreign Minister Qureshi. During their detailed deliberations, "the entire gamut of bilateral relations was covered and views were exchanged on regional developments", according to a Foreign Office press release.

While highlighting that the relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is "deep-rooted and long-standing", Foreign Minister Qureshi focused on issues of mutual interest including bilateral trade and economic cooperation, security and defence cooperation, and parliamentary exchanges. He also underscored the importance of Saudi investments in Pakistan, particularly in the petrochemical, mining and minerals and energy sectors.

Qureshi during the meeting expressed the hope that the Road to Makkah project to facilitate Haj pilgrims from Pakistan will be extended to other cities of the country, the FO statement said.

The foreign minister apprised his Saudi counterpart of the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir in the aftermath of India’s decision to revoke the region's special autonomy in August. He also highlighted the Indian government’s actions with regard to the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens and "the systematic targeting of minorities in India, particularly Muslims". Qureshi thanked the kingdom for its support in the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir.

According to the press release, Prince Faisal conveyed to Qureshi the Saudi leadership’s appreciation for the role played by Pakistan in maintaining regional peace and stability.

He reaffirmed Riyadh's commitment to cementing ties with Pakistan in all fields, saying Saudi Arabia was committed to a prosperous and successful Pakistan. The two ministers also discussed the OIC’s role in the advancement of the Kashmir cause.

"The visit of the Saudi foreign minister to Pakistan is a reflection of the growing bilateral relations and part of regular exchange of high-level visits between the two fraternal countries," the FO press release added.

Meeting with PM Imran

The Saudi foreign minister also held a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, which was also attended by Qureshi. During the meeting, views were exchanged on bilateral relations as well as regional developments, a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said.

​The premier during the meeting appreciated the growing economic ties between the two countries and the Saudi commitment for investment in various sectors, particularly petrochemicals, mining and renewable energy.

According to the press release, Prime Minister Imran expressed the hope that the Saudi team for extending support in the development of tourism sector will visit Pakistan soon, as agreed with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman during the premier's recent visit to Saudi Arabia.

The prime minister also highlighted the worsening human rights and humanitarian situation in occupied Kashmir. He informed the Saudi minister that the Indian government is engaged in "systematic efforts to marginalise and disenfranchise minorities, particularly Muslims".

In addition, he said, India’s belligerent actions on the Line of Control are stoking further tensions and "imperilling regional peace and security". Prime Minister Imran stressed that the international community must play its role to facilitate a solution of the Kashmir dispute, and take steps for the protection of minorities in India.

Prince Faisal conveyed to the premier the "firm commitment of the Saudi leadership to the further deepening of fraternal ties and multi-faceted cooperation between the two countries", the PM Office said.

It added that the Saudi foreign minister also reiterated Riyadh's "steadfast support for Pakistan’s core national issues".

This was the first visit by Prince Faisal since he assumed office in October.

Visit meant to thank PM for pulling out of KL Summit

Earlier, a diplomatic source told Dawn that the purpose of the trip is to thank PM Imran for not attending Kuala Lumpur Summit.

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

The source, in one of the Arab diplomatic missions, disclosed that the visit was scheduled only a couple of days ago. "The purpose of the visit is to thank PM Khan for his decision of not attending KL summit, and express solidarity with Islamabad after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s allegations that Saudi pressure forced Pakistan to skip the event," he said, requesting anonymity.

"The Saudis also want to dispel the impression, which was reinforced by Erdogan’s allegations, that their attitude towards Islamabad is patronising," he added.

Earlier this month, the prime minister had decided not to attend the KL Summit — which was held in Kuala Lumpur and was attended by leaders of Muslim countries including Iran, Qatar and Turkey as well as religious scholars. The decision was reportedly taken after Saudi Arabia expressed its displeasure over Pakistan's decision to participate. Riyadh sees the summit as an attempt to present an alternative to the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The decision came as a surprise because Prime Minister Imran was one of the first leaders with whom Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad shared plans to hold the summit when the two met on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session in September. Prime Minister Imran had confirmed his participation soon after.

Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had rejected the reports that Prime Minister Imran's decision was taken due to pressure from Riyadh.

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