Saudi crown prince heads for Pakistan amid India tensions

Saudi crown prince heads for Pakistan amid India tensions

Kerry Wise
February 19, 2019

He will also visit India for the first time next week and will sign various agreements.

Multiple contracts are expected to be signed between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia during the visit of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan told Okaz/Saudi Gazette in an exclusive interview.

Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki and Pakistan's Ambassador in Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz were also present among other officials.

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are working together to expand economic partnership, particularly in the tourism sector, he added.

"Economy can not sustain without energy", he said, adding that the visit of the crown prince would take the bilateral relations to the new heights. Unease ran in the inner circle of the Pakistani government that the Saudi prince might call off the trip due to security reasons after build-up of tensions between Pakistan and India following the terror attack on CRPF soldiers Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama, sources said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Cabinet will receive the Saudi Crown prince and his high-powered delegation at Nur Khan Airbase.

The crown prince's visit to Islamabad comes as the Taliban appeared to postpone a round of talks with the USA set to be held in Pakistan this week, according to the group's spokesman.

Memoranda of understanding were also inked for investments in minerals and agriculture, Khan said.

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Prime Minister Imran Khan and Pakistan's army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa greeted Prince Mohammed on the red carpet of a military airport in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, before Khan personally drove the crown prince to the capital Islamabad.

The joint statement, while reaffirming the historic relationship between the two brotherly countries, applauds the growing momentum in bilateral ties in all areas.

"Actually meeting Prince Salman is not in the plan so far but we can discuss it when we are in Islamabad", said the Taliban representative.

Bin Salman has reportedly tabled a $4.9 billion bid for the Old Trafford club following an initial approach back in October.

Some have linked the killing to the Saudi crown prince, known as MBS.

Khan himself drove the Saudi royal to the prime minister's residence, where he was met by an honour guard.

The Saudi side lauded Pakistan's important positions in the Islamic world and its efforts for regional peace and security.

The MBS visit, however, risks being overshadowed by escalating tensions between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan.