Saudi FM meets Qureshi; discusses bilateral, regional issues of mutual interest

Saudi FM meets Qureshi; discusses bilateral, regional issues of mutual interest

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan on Thursday met his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the two leaders discussed bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest. After meeting Qureshi, Faisal called on Prime Minister Imran Khan.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said during the detailed deliberations between the two ministers, the entire gamut of bilateral relations was covered and views were exchanged on regional developments. It said Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored that the relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is deep-rooted and long-standing. He focused on issues of mutual interest including bilateral trade and economic cooperation, security and defence cooperation, parliamentary exchanges and increased trade relations.

He also highlighted the importance of Saudi investments, particularly in the petrochemical, mining and minerals and energy sectors.

During the meeting, Qureshi also raised the Kashmir issue. “The two Foreign Ministers discussed OIC’s (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) role in the advancement of the cause of Kashmir,” the Foreign Office said. He also “highlighted the Indian Government’s actions with regard to CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act 2019) and NRC (National Register of Citizens) and the systematic targeting of minorities in India, particularly Muslims,” the FO said.

Prince Faisal underscored the importance that Saudi attaches to its fraternal and strategic relationship with Pakistan. “He conveyed the Saudi leadership’s deep appreciation for the role played by Pakistan in maintaining regional peace and stability,” the FO said. Adding that Saudi Arabia was committed to a strong, prosperous and successful Pakistan, Faisal reaffirmed the commitment of Saudi leadership in cementing ties with Pakistan in all fields.

The two Foreign Ministers had earlier met in Riyadh. “The visit of the Saudi Foreign Minister to Pakistan is a reflection of the growing bilateral relations and part of regular exchange of high-level visits between the two fraternal countries,” the FO said.

The day-long visit of the Saudi minister came after criticism of the alleged pressure applied by the Gulf Kingdom on Pakistan to skip a summit meeting of Muslim countries held last week in Malaysia.

Pakistan faced huge domestic and international embarrassment after Prime Minister Khan refused to attend the summit at the eleventh hour. The Summit from December 19-21 in Kuala Lumpur was seen by Saudis as an attempt to create a new bloc in the Muslim world that could become an alternative to the dysfunctional Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) led by the Gulf Kingdom.

Citing a diplomatic source, Dawn reported that the purpose of the trip of the Saudi minister was to thank Prime Minister Khan for not attending the Kuala Lumpur Summit. “The purpose of the visit is to thank PM Khan for his decision of not attending KL summit, and express solidarity with Islamabad after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s allegations that Saudi pressure forced Pakistan to skip the event,” the paper quoted the source as saying.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates extended financial support to the government of Prime Minister Khan to deal with the balance of payment crisis last year. PTI

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