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Saudi Crown Prince in Pakistan on official visit; pacts worth $20 billion signed

Islamabad Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense,was accorded a grand welcome upon his arrival in Islamabad on Sunday in a high-profile official state visit to Pakistan. The Crown Prince said that Saudi Arabia has signed investment agreements worth $20 billion.

The Crown Prince and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan oversaw the signing of seven agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in diverse fields, including energy, power, petrochemical, mineral resources and sports, aimed at further bolstering their bilateral cooperation. The signing ceremony was held following official talks between the Crown Prince and the Pakistani PM and their co-chairing of the meeting of the Saudi Pakistani Coordination Council at Prime Minister House in Islamabad on Sunday evening.

The Crown Prince said the $20 billion figure represents only the start of an economic tie-up that would bring the historic allies even closer. It's big for phase 1, and definitely it will grow every month and every year, and it will be beneficial for both countries, said the crown prince. We have been a brotherly country, a friendly country to Pakistan. We've walked together in tough and good times, and we (will) continue (to do so)," he added. Imran Khan and Pakistan's Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa welcomed the Crown Prince 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. Saudi Arabia has always been a friend in need, which is why we value it so much, said Khan, while seated next to Prince Mohammed. I want to thank you for the way you helped us when we were in bad situation, Khan added.

For Pakistanis, this is a great day, Khan said while addressing a dinner reception held in honor of the visiting Crown Prince. Khan said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are 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. Khan also invited Riyadh to avail opportunities that can arise from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Pakistan's close links with Beijing. It is an exciting future where we have Saudi Arabia participating in what is going to be, in the next 10 years, probably the country with the biggest GDP, he added.

Khan told the Crown Prince that if it hadn't been for security concerns, you would have seen thousands and thousands of people on the streets welcoming you. Islamabad has shown appreciation by treating Crown Prince Muhammad's trip as the biggest state visit since Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015. The Crown Prince was earlier accorded a red carpet welcome and presented a guard of honor at the PM House. The Crown Prince and Khan introduced members of their respective delegations, following which the crown prince planted a sapling. During their officials talks, the Crown Prince conveyed greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to Imran Khan.

It was followed by the meeting of the Saudi Pakistani Coordination Council. Speaking on the occasion, the Crown Prince said that Pakistan will soon become a strong country, and Saudi Arabia wants to make sure to be part of that. We are confident of the common and bright future between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. We are working to expand economic partnership, including the tourism sector, with Pakistan. The Crown Prince said: We are going to work with Pakistan in all areas, economically, politically, and security to make sure that we create an amazing future for Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

Most of the agreements signed focused on energy projects, including a $10 billion refinery and petrochemicals complex in the coastal city of Gwadar. The deals include technical cooperation program between the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization and the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority;agreement to finance the supply of crude oil and petroleum products to Pakistan between the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and the government of Pakistan; MoU between SFD and the government of Pakistan to finance power generation projects in Pakistan; MoU between the two governments to study investment opportunities in the refining and petrochemical sectors in Pakistan; MoU between the two governments in the field of mineral resources in Pakistan; MoU between the two governments in the development of renewable energy projects in Pakistan and a cooperation agreement in the field of sports.

The Crown Prince kick-started a high-profile three-nation tour with his first stop in Pakistan, and that will also take him to India and China.

Source: International Islamic News Agency