Pakistan PM receives Saudi crown prince at Rawalpindi airbase
- Islamabad puts out all stops for Crown Prince Salman's first official visit
- Trip expected to enhance historically close bilateral ties and expand cooperation in trade and investment
ISLAMABAD: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was received by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa as he landed in Rawalpindi on Sunday evening to sign a host of important investment deals during a two-day visit.
Prime Minister Khan broke protocol by personally driving the Saudi royal from the Nur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi on the outskirts of the capital city of Islamabad.
The trip, the crown prince's first to the country since he became the heir-apparent in April 2017, is being seen by Pakistan as one of the most important state visits in recent memory. It is aimed at boosting bilateral ties, long defined by security and defense deals, by expanding economic cooperation and sealing several investment deals.
During the visit, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are expected to sign memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in various sectors including investment, finance, power, renewable energy, internal security, media, culture, and sports. Deals of over $20 billion will be signed, information minister Fawad Chaudhry told Arab News on Sunday.
The crown jewel in the investments is a $10 billion refinery and petrocomplex to be set up in the port of city of Gwadar in southwestern Pakistan.
Pakistan has put out all stops for the visit of the powerful Saudi heir, with Saudi and Pakistani flags, welcome banners and huge portraits of the crown prince, PM Khan and Pakistani President Arif Alvi put up at several key points in Islamabad.
Security was tight in the capital on the weekend, with authorities restricting entry into the Red Zone, a diplomatic enclave which houses important state-owned buildings including the Prime Minister House, President House and the Supreme Court.
The crown prince -- who is accompanied by a coterie of officials from the Saudi Royal family, key ministers, and leading businessmen -- is expected to discuss bilateral, regional, and global issues during meetings with the president, the prime minister, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
The Saudi royal will also attend a dinner at the PM House on Sunday night and a luncheon at the Presidential Palace on Monday. He will co-chair with PM Khan meetings of joint working groups in many sectors including energy, trade and media on Monday.
“A delegation of Pakistan’s Senate will also call on the crown prince to discuss ways to enhance parliamentary cooperation between the two countries,” the Foreign Office said in a statement, adding that Saudi ministers would meet their counterparts to discuss bilateral cooperation in their respective fields.
"On the sidelines of the visit, the businessmen of the two countries will meet to discuss opportunities for collaboration in the private sector,” the statement read.
“The visit...will significantly enhance bilateral ties between the two countries in all spheres of cooperation,” the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.