ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is hopeful that it will sign eight investment agreements during a visit to Pakistan by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the weekend, the Pakistani foreign minister said on Wednesday.
The crown prince is due to arrive in Islamabad on Feb. 16 on a two-day visit that is being seen as the culmination of strong ties between the historic allies.
He is expected to sign a range of agreements worth up to $15 billion dollars, 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.
“When he (the crown prince) comes to Islamabad on his two-day visit, we hope to sign eight MoUs,” Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Wednesday, declining to give a final figure for the total investments expected.
He said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had also agreed to form a “coordination council” jointly supervised by the Pakistani prime minister and Saudi crown prince to ensure the implementation of the eight deals.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan and the crown prince, ministers from both countries would be part of a new Pakistan-Saudi Arabia “coordination council” that would follow up on and implement agreements, Qureshi said.
“Through the council, the MoUs (memoranda of understanding) will be followed up on and made a reality,” the foreign minister said.
“We are putting in place a mechanism to take these MoUs to their logical conclusion.”
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have long maintained strong ties and Riyadh has repeatedly come to Islamabad’s financial rescue.
Qureshi said over the next three years, Saudi Arabia would give Pakistan a total of $9.6 billion in loans and oil on deferred payments to help keep its economy afloat and avert a balance of payments crisis.
On Tuesday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Arab News that the Saudi crown prince would be the first state guest to stay at the official residence of the prime minister of Pakistan.
Outlining the prince’s agenda, the information minister said that he would attend a reception at the presidential palace on Saturday.
“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 crown prince will leave Pakistan on Feb. 17 and continue to Malaysia, Indonesia, India and China.
Responding to a question about reports that the prince would address a joint session of Parliament, Chaudhry said: “That is highly unlikely.”
Giving details of security arrangements made for the visit, the information minister said that the crown prince’s “own security team” would guard the prime minister house’s during his stay there but Pakistani security officials would also be on duty.
Chaudhry said that Islamabad would be on “high security alert” throughout the 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 the prime minister’s house but across Islamabad during the two days that the crown prince is there.