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Pakistani premier to embark on 3-day visit to Saudi Arabia

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad, Pakistan on 30 January 2020 [Muhammed Semih Uğurlu/Anadolu Agency]
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad, Pakistan on 30 January 2020 [Muhammed Semih Uğurlu/Anadolu Agency]

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will embark on a three-day official visit to Saudi Arabia on Friday at the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the Foreign Ministry has said, Anadolu Agency reports.

He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and other members of the Cabinet.

According to a statement on Thursday, consultations with the Saudi leadership will cover all areas of bilateral cooperation including economic, trade, investment, energy, job opportunities for Pakistani workforce, and welfare of Pakistani diaspora.

"The two sides will also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest. A number of bilateral agreements/MoUs are expected to be signed during the visit," it read.

During his stay in the kingdom, Khan will also meet Yousef Al-Othaimeen, secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the imams of the two holy mosques in Makkah and Medina.

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Pakistan's army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa is already in Saudi Arabia for meetings with civilian and military leadership. He met Gen. Fayiadh Bin Hamed Al Rowaily, chief of general staff Saudi Armed Forces, in Riyadh on Wednesday.

The visits are viewed as part of ongoing efforts to mend ties between the two long-time allies, which have been strained in recent years by a series of events, including Pakistan's refusal to join the Riyadh-led war in Yemen, and the kingdom's lukewarm support for Islamabad's stand on the long-standing Kashmir dispute.

In 2018, Saudi Arabia extended a $6 billion financial package to Pakistan to shore up its depleting foreign reserves. But relations deteriorated to the extent that Islamabad had to borrow $1 billion from Beijing to repay Riyadh a part of the soft loan. On previous occasions Riyadh had either rolled over the loan or converted into grant.

Saudi Arabia is home to more than two million Pakistanis, and remains the largest source of remittances to Pakistan.

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