No strings attached with Saudi bailout package: Qureshi    

Fawad Maqsood October 25, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday categorically said neither any strings were attached to Saudi Arabia’s $6 billion financial assistance nor the kingdom had asked for any favours from Pakistan in return.

“Saudi Arabia has imposed no conditions on Pakistan in exchange of the package it has offered in the shape of balance of payment support and the deferred payment facility on oil imports,” Qureshi told reporters here at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

When asked whether the financial rescue package could affect Pakistan’s policy on Yemen, the foreign minister said there would be no change in Pakistan’s stance.

He rejected the impression that Pakistan would review its earlier position of remaining neutral in Saudi military alliance against Yemen.

He said the Saudi assistance would act as a cushion for Pakistan and could ease the financial conditions, in case the country felt the need to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in future.

The foreign minister announced that Pakistan and China were in the process of negotiating another Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in addition to the existing one.

He said consultations were in progress with the Chinese side on ways to increase Pakistan’s exports and possibilities of trade in local currencies.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said Pakistan and India being nuclear neighbours could not afford to remain disengaged, resulting in destabilization of the entire region.

“The only way is dialogue and Pakistan is open to dialogue,” he said when asked to comment on India’s harsh tweet following the statement of Prime Minister Imran Khan at Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh that Pakistan would hope for resumption of talks after the Indian general election.

India, he said, was habitual of blaming Pakistan, whereas it was their internal backlash which resulted in cancellation of the two foreign ministers’ meeting at the United Nations General Assembly session.

However, he did not rule out the possibility of talks resumption after the new government in India takes charge. “When India will be ready [for talks], Pakistan will be ready to reciprocate,” he added.

On Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Quershi said Pakistan’s message of reconciliation had been proven well and the United States was also considering to bring Taliban to the negotiation table.

Pakistan was the main beneficiary of peace and stability in Afghanistan, he added.

To a question on progress on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, he said it was an economically viable project, however the sanctions on Iran were the main hurdle.

As regards abduction of 12 Iranian border guards, the foreign minister confirmed that Pakistan had recently shared intelligence information with Iran, however, denied to give details.

Pakistan and Iran, he said, had already developed a border mechanism. Cooperation was in the interest of Pakistan, he added.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2018

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