Saudi FM to visit Pakistan next month to discuss bilateral issues

Islamabad: Amid souring ties between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, a high-level Saudi delegation led by the kingdom’s foreign minister is set to pay an official visit to Islamabad in January.

According to The Express Tribune report, both sides will hold discussions on several matters including the latest developments in the Middle East region, and other bilateral issues.

The Saudi foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud will be accompanied by a team of Saudi businessmen and companies. Sources told the Pakistan daily that Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman will also accompany the visiting delegation, adding that the establishment of an oil refinery in Pakistan will also be deliberated upon.

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The Saudi FM will hold talks with country’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi.

Back in August, the relationship between the two countries went haywire when Mehmood Qureshi openly rebuked the kingdom for its lack of support for Islamabad’s stance on the Kashmir issue.

During a television talk-show, the Pakistani Foreign Minister made a statement that irked the Saudi “big brother”, where he said that Pakistan would be “compelled” to “call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir.”

The remark by Pakistani Foreign Minister was not taken well by Riyadh and was seen as a veiled threat to concoct a new side against the Saudi-dominated Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

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In retaliation, the kingdom was quick to request the sudden repayment of a billion-dollar loan extended to Pakistan in November 2018, which was renegotiated just six months ago. Besides this, it also refused to renew a deferred oil payments scheme that was part of the same loan which was given to Islamabad when the country was trying to avoid a possible sovereign default.

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