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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are not expected to sign any memorandums of understanding (MoUs) at this stage when a high-level delegation led by Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan is undertaking a two-day visit during which the two sides will hold discussions on expected MoUs that would be signed later, as Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman will visit the country “soon”.

A high-level Saudi delegation, led by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan arrived on a two-day visit to Pakistan on Monday which was warmly received by Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar at Nur Khan Airbase.

The delegation consists of Saudi Minister of Water and Agriculture Eng Abdul Rahman Abdul Mohsen Al-Fadley, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Ibrahim Al-Khorayef, Deputy Minister of Investment Badr Al-Badr, Head of Saudi Special Committee Mohammad Mazyed Al Towaijri, and senior officials from Ministry of Energy and Saudi Fund for General Investments.

A high government official said the visit was primarily focused on economic cooperation between the two countries, particularly the ongoing and some new projects under the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).

However, he said that no MoU was expected to be signed at that stage and the discussions would be held on a technical level which would be followed by the signing of a number of MoUs at the leadership level later during the Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to the country.

“We desire that the Crown Prince undertakes his Pakistan’s visit very soon,” the official said, adding that Saudi leadership was taking a “keen” interest in investing in Pakistan’s various sectors, agriculture, renewable energy, and mining that also include the Saudi investment in the Reko Diq Copper Gold project.

He said the two sides would also exchange proposals on some new areas of cooperation in which Saudi investment was expected.

To a question, the official maintained that the Crown Prince would visit Pakistan as soon as the talks at the technical level were concluded.

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman last visited Pakistan in 2019 and he was expected to visit Pakistan in 2022 during his regional trip which he later cancelled.

“Now as the Saudi leadership is taking keen interest and we are expecting the visit to take place very soon…We have received very positive signals from Saudi Arabia and they are interested in investment in various areas,” he added.

He further stated that the visit was pre-planned and had nothing to do with the situation in the Middle East that emerged from the Iranian strikes inside Israel.

“It is also indicative of the fact that how much the Saudis are eager to further economic partnership with Pakistan that they did not postpone the high-level trip due to the emerging developments in the Middle East,” the official further stated.

To another question, the senior government official said that Pakistan was also desirous of Saudi investment in projects under the next phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

According to Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the visit takes place essentially to expedite follow-up on the understanding reached between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Mohammad bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during their recent meeting in Makkah Al Mukarramah to enhance bilateral economic cooperation between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

She said the Saudi delegation would hold meetings with President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar, and counterpart ministers, Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir, and the Apex Committee of SIFC.

“This visit is aimed at lending positive impetus to enhanced bilateral cooperation and mutually rewarding economic partnership,” she said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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