ISLAMABAD: Saudi envoy Nawaf bin Saeed Ahmed Al-Malki on Tuesday said that Riyadh looks to deepen ties with Islamabad.
“Highlighting the excellent relationship between the leadership of the two countries, the ambassador underlined that the kingdom would continue to work with Pakistan for further strengthening of bilateral relations,” the Foreign Office said in a statement on the meeting between Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Nawaf bin Saeed Ahmed Al-Malki and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Ambassador Al-Malki recalled the growing Pak-Saudi cooperation in various fields.
Envoys routinely pay ‘courtesy calls’ on the foreign minister, but Mr Al-Malki’s meeting had a special context. It was the first interaction between the two since Mr Qureshi’s criticism of Saudi-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation last month for not convening a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the 57-member bloc of the Muslim countries.
During his meeting with the ambassador, foreign minister criticises Houthis’ attacks on the kingdom, says FO
A lot of behind-the-scenes diplomacy also took place for preventing what was being seen as a gulf in the positions of the two countries from widening.
The row, furthermore, overshadowed Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s trip to Riyadh, which the ISPR said, was for talks on military cooperation.
A change in Islamabad’s tone on the OIC has been visible since Gen Bajwa’s visit to Saudi Arabia almost a fortnight ago.
According to the FO statement on the meeting with the Saudi envoy, the foreign minister “underlined deep-rooted historic and fraternal ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia” and “highlighted the kingdom’s traditional leadership role in Muslim Ummah”.
The statement further said: “Views were also exchanged on important bilateral, regional and international developments.”
However, there was no specific mention of the Kashmir dispute, at least in the press release, although it features regularly in statements on Mr Qureshi’s interactions with officials and leaders of other countries and organisations.
The foreign minister, while reiterating Pakistan’s support and solidarity with Saudi Arabia against any threats to its security and territorial integrity, condemned attacks by Yemen’s Houthi militia on the kingdom and called for their stoppage. Mr Qureshi extended good wishes about the health of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the FO said.
Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2020