Pakistan is a dear and a very, very important country, says Saudi crown prince during visit, signs MoUs worth $20 billion


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, during his two-day visit to Pakistan, said that it was a “dear country” to all Saudis and that the two countries “have walked together in tough and good times”, Dawn online reported.

While addressing a reception dinner at Pakistan’s Prime Minister House hours after arriving in Pakistan, he said thar Pakistan today had a great future in store “with a great leadership”, and observed that the country’s GDP grew by 5 per cent in 2018.

“We believe that Pakistan is going to be a very, very important country in the coming future and we want to be sure we are part of that,” the crown prince said.

Turning towards Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, he said his country had been “waiting for that kind of a leadership” to partner with and “build a lot of things together”.

He said that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan today signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for investment cooperation.

“We believe the amount of that kind of investment is US $20 billion,” MBS said. “It’s big, for phase one.”

He expressed hope that the investment would grow to bigger numbers in the coming years and be beneficial for both the countries.

The Saudi royal said his country would collaborate with Pakistan economically, politically and in terms of security. “We believe in our region, that is why we are investing in it,” he added.

“This is my first trip [to the] east since I became the crown prince and the first country [that I have visited] is Pakistan,” he stated.

In his speech, Imran Khan welcomed MBS and his delegation, saying the Kingdom has always been a “friend in need” to Pakistan.

“For Pakistanis, this is a great day,” the premier said, adding that Saudi Arabia had always been there when Pakistan needed friends.

“I want to thank you for the way you helped us when we were in [a] bad situation,” Khan told MBS, adding that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were now taking their relationship to a new level, where investment agreements would be mutually beneficial for the countries.

The investment would revolve around minerals, tourism, petrochemicals, agriculture, food processing and other areas, he said, as per the Dawn report.

Furthermore, he requested MBS to allow Pakistani Haj pilgrims to undergo immigration at the three major Pakistani airports before leaving for Saudi Arabia for their convenience.

Secondly, Khan asked the Saudi authorities to look into the hardships of the Pakistani labourers working in the Kingdom.

“There are some 3,000 [Pakistani] prisoners there and we just would like you to bear in mind that they are poor people who have left their families behind,” Khan said.

Terming it a “special request”, the premier asked MBS to “look upon them [Pakistani labourers] as your own people”.

In response, MBS told Prime Minister Khan he could consider him the ambassador of Pakistan in Saudi Arabia. “We cannot say no to Pakistan … whatever we can do, we will deliver that.”

The meeting also included the signing of MoUs for bilateral cooperation in a number of areas.

The agreements signed include technical cooperation programme between the Saudi Standards, Metrology And Quality Organisation (SASO) and Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), cooperation agreement between Saudi and Pakistani governments in the field of sports, financing agreement for the import of Saudi goods between the Saudi Fund for Development and Pakistan, framework MoU regarding Saudi funds’ participation in the financing of power generation projects between the Saudi Fund for Development and Pakistan, MoU between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to explore investment opportunities in refining and petrochemical sectors, MoU between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in the field of mineral resource sector and  an MoU between the government of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan on the development of renewable energy projects.

(With inputs from Dawn)

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