Gulf Today

PM to meet Saudi crown prince in Riyadh


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif will meet the Saudi crown prince during a twoday visit to Riyadh that starts on Saturday, the foreign ministry said.

The visit will be Shahbaz’s first foreign trip since forming a coalition government in February.

The two are longtime allies, with the South Asian nation oten turning to Riyadh for financial help during its balance of payment crises.

Since it averted a sovereign debt default last summer by securing a $3-billion IMF bailout, Pakistan has been in dire need of financial support from the multilater­al lender and friendly countries.

Shahbaz will discuss issues of mutual interest during the meeting with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz, the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

In addition to financial support, Pakistan has lately been trying to secure Saudi investment in industries ranging from agricultur­e to mines, minerals and aviation.

Islamabad says Saudi Arabia has shown interest in acquiring government stakes in Pakistan’s Reko Diq gold and copper mine, which could be a major deal for the $350-billion economy.

Barrick Gold Corp owns a half share in the mine, which is considered one of the world’s largest underdevel­oped copper-gold areas.

A delegation of Barrick Gold during a recent meeting with Shahbaz provided an update on the project and stated that the feasibilit­y study will be finished by the end of 2024.

Accompanyi­ng the prime minister will be Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb, along with senior officials from the finance ministry.

The finance minister is expected to provide a comprehens­ive briefing on investment incentives and opportunit­ies, it has been learnt.

Members of the investment commitee will also visit Saudi Arabia

In a statement, Foreign Office Spokespers­on Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have longstandi­ng fraternal relations rooted in religious and cultural affinity.

She said the people of Pakistan have the deepest respect and regard for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

The spokespers­on said the leadership of both countries is commited to advancing the fraternal ties and mutually rewarding economic and investment relations.

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Shahbaz Sharif during a meeting in Islamabad.
File / Reuters ↑ Shahbaz Sharif during a meeting in Islamabad.

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