Grand reception awaits Saudi crown prince in Pakistan

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Pakistani PM Imran Khan will discuss ways to ensure quick progress on tangible areas of cooperation. (SPA/File)
Updated 17 February 2019

Grand reception awaits Saudi crown prince in Pakistan

  • The crown prince is due to arrive in Islamabad on Saturday

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will be the first state guest to stay at the official residence of the prime minister of Pakistan, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Arab News on Wednesday.

The crown prince is due to arrive in Islamabad for a two-day visit on the afternoon of Feb. 16. He is expected to sign agreements worth up to $15 billion, including for three power plants in Pakistan’s Punjab province and an oil refinery and petrochemical complex to be set up in the coastal city of Gwadar in southwestern Balochistan.

Chaudhry said the crown prince would arrive in Islamabad on Saturday and stay overnight at Prime Minister House.

Outlining the prince’s agenda, the information minister said he would attend a reception at the presidential palace on Saturday evening.

“A reception will be hosted in his honor at the president’s house and will be attended by the (Pakistani) prime minister, army chief, all top ministers, bureaucrats and important personalities in the country as well as members of the royal entourage,” Chaudhry said.

On Sunday, he said, Prime Minister Imran Khan and the crown prince will co-chair meetings of joint working groups including on trade and investment, energy, science, culture and information and media.

The Foreign Ministry said the crown prince would call on the president of Pakistan, the prime minister and the army chief separately.

The statement added that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would sign agreements during the crown prince’s visit, including in the fields of investment, finance, power, internal security, media and culture.

“The two countries will also discuss ways and means to develop a robust follow-up mechanism to ensure effective implementation and quick progress on tangible areas of cooperation,” the statement said.

The crown prince will leave Pakistan on Feb. 17 and head to India, China, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Responding to a question about reports that the crown prince would address a joint session of Parliament, Chaudhry said: “That is highly unlikely.”

Giving details of security arrangements for the visit, the information minister said the crown prince’s own security team would guard Prime Minister House during his stay there, but that Pakistani security officials would also be on duty.

Chaudhry said Islamabad would be on high security throughout the crown prince’s visit, and the Pakistan army and paramilitary Rangers would be in charge of keeping the capital safe. 

Saudi security and intelligence officials are also expected to be present not just at Prime Minister House, but across Islamabad during the two days the crown prince is there.

As of Monday night, 350 people in the crown prince’s advance media and security team had already arrived in Islamabad and another 800 were expected in the next few days, Chaudhry said. 

Vehicles to be used by the crown prince would arrive via a special flight on Friday, while the cars and security equipment of his entourage would also be shipped in. At least 80 containers of luggage and other paraphernalia are expected to arrive in Islamabad to cater to the needs of the royal entourage.

Saudi ministers accompanying the crown prince are also expected to hold meetings with their counterparts “to discuss bilateral cooperation in their respective fields,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement released Wednesday, adding that businessmen from the two countries would also meet to discuss opportunities for collaboration in the private sector.

“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 statement said.


Number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia could hit 200,000, says health minister

Updated 20 min 35 sec ago

Number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia could hit 200,000, says health minister

  • Minister added it was vital the public cooperated with the government’s instructions and precautionary measures

RIYADH: The number of COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia could reach up to 200,000 within a few weeks, according to the Kingdom’s health minister.

Citing four Saudi and international studies on Tuesday, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah said the case figure is likely to see a constant increase rather than a decrease, Saudi Press Agency reported.

"Within the next few weeks, studies predict the number of infections will range from a minimum of 10,000 to a maximum of 200,000," Al-Rabiah said.

The minister added it was vital the public cooperated with the government’s instructions and precautionary measures to limit the number of infections.

“There is no doubt that our commitment to the instructions and procedures, in its entirety reduces the number of cases to the minimum, while non-compliance will lead to a huge increase in the number of cases,” he said.

“We stand today at a decisive moment as a society in raising our sense of responsibility and contributing together with determination to stop the spread of this pandemic,”

Many people were not taking the dangers of the pandemic seriously enough, according to the health minister, adding that the Kingdom had death with the crisis with full “transparency and clarity.”

The Saudi health ministry also announced on Tuesday that there were a total of 2,795 confirmed cases and the death toll from the virus in the Kingdom had reached 41.

A 24-hour curfew and lockdown has been imposed in the cities of Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran and Al-Hofuf and in the governorates of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif and Khobar in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Last week, King Salman issued a decree which ordered treatment to be available for anyone in need of medical care, including people who have overstayed their visa in the Kingdom.