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ISLAMABAD: Chief Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant-General Faiz Hameed will leave for Saudi Arabia today (Sunday) for holding talks with Saudi leadership on issues of mutual interest, regional situations and bilateral cooperation.

"Pakistan relations with Saudi Arabia are "excellent" and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa's upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia is a planned visit and it is related to military-to-military ties between the two countries," DG ISPR Maj-Gen Babar Iftikhar told a media briefing on Thursday.

"Nobody can doubt the centrality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Islamic world and the two countries' ties are and will remain historic...The hearts of the Pakistani people beat with the Saudi people, so there is no need to raise questions on the relations...There is no need to read too much into it. Everything is fine," the DG ISPR further stated.

During his talks with Saudi leadership, including with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, sources said that the Army Chief may also request Saudi Arabia for renewal of the agreement for provision of oil worth $ 3.2 billion on deferred payment besides in-depth discussion on issues of mutual interest, regional situation and the country's economic challenges.

Recently, Pakistan paid back $ 1 billion on Saudi Arabia's request out of the $3 billion borrowed from the kingdom in November 2018.

The deferred oil facility was in addition to the loan which expired in May this year and Pakistan is seeking renewal of the facility.

With respect to relations with Saudi Arabia, Aisha Farooqui told her last weekly media briefing as Foreign Office spokesperson [she was replaced with Zahid Hafeez Chaduhri] that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have strong historic and fraternal relations.

"The people of Pakistan have deep respect for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Pakistan remains deeply committed to the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia," she said, adding that the landmark visit of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in February 2019 further cemented the close brotherly relations and charted new avenues of cooperation in trade, investment and other fields.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020