RIYADH (Saudi Arabia) – Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reached Riyadh on Wednesday on the invitation of King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud for a three-day visit. He was received at the airport by the King himself, and was presented with a guard of honour.
This is the premier’s first official visit to the Kingdom since King Salman bin Abdul Aziz assumed the throne.
During his three-day visit, Sharif will also perform Umrah and visit the Masjid-e-Nabvi, in addition to meeting members of the Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia.
The premier is accompanied by a high-level delegation which includes Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and PM’s special assistants Irfan Siddiqui and Tariq Fatemi.
During his meeting with the Saudi king, Prime Minister Sharif discussed bilateral relations, regional and international issues, according to an official press statement.
During the meeting, the two leaders emphasized the importance of Pakistan-Saudi relations and vowed to further strengthen mutual cooperation in various fields. Sharif expressed confidence that during the reign of King Salman relations between the two countries would touch new heights.
He said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are tied in bonds of shared faith and enjoy excellent relations since the independence of Pakistan. Being the custodian of the two holy mosques, the Saudi king has a special place in the heart of each Pakistani, he added.
Sharif said Pakistan would like to further strengthen ties with its brotherly Islamic country in all fields, particularly trade, investment, energy, infrastructure development and several others.
The prime minister thanked the Saudi leadership for providing valuable assistance to Pakistan in the time of need.
King Salman said that Saudi Arabia attaches great importance to its relations with Pakistan and would like to see them further strengthened. He said Saudi Arabia would like Pakistan to prosper and develop. He particularly mentioned the need for increased interaction between the business communities of the two countries.
Both the leaders also discussed matters relating to the region and agreed that terrorism and extremism are common enemies and the two countries will continue to cooperate with each other in field of security.
Prime Minister Sharif extended an invitation to King Salman to visit Pakistan which he accepted.
The prime minister is accompanied by a high-level delegation that includes Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on National Affairs Irfan Siddiqui and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi.
In his pre-departure statement, Sharif said that the two countries have grown stronger with the passage of time. “Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are brotherly countries which are tied in bonds of shared faith and values,”a statement from the PM office quoted Nawaz Sharif as saying.
Meanwhile, a report published in Gulf News said that Riyadh would press Prime Minister Sharif to boost the number of Pakistani troops in the Kingdom to fight militants, including the Islamic State. However, the report said that Islamabad is cautious about broadening its security relationship with Riyadh.
“There is uncertainty in the Middle East as Saudi Arabia deals with the wider Islamic State-related challenge,” a former national security adviser to Nawaz, Mahmoud Durrani said.
“Pakistan has to be careful to avoid getting embroiled in a relationship with the Saudis which only exposes us to new controversies.”