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Shahid Khaqan assured Saudi Arabia of Pakistan support for peace and stability in the region

28 November, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday endorsed Saudi Arabia’s policies in the region and assured it of Pakistan’s support in its efforts for maintaining peace and stability.

The prime minister, who was on a day-long visit to Saudi Arabia on the invitation of its leaders, was accompanied by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar.

The official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Prime Minister Abbasi “reviewed bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries and the latest developments in the region”.

The king was assisted by Interior Minister Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef, the minister of state for foreign affairs Dr Nizar bin Obaid Madani and Trade Minister Dr Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi.

In Islamabad, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said Shahid Khaqan Abbasi assured the monarch of Pakistan’s support for Saudi Arabia in its endeavour for “peace and stability in the region”.

“The prime minister lauded efforts of the Saudi leadership in bringing peace and stability to the region and assured the King of Pakistan’s full support in this regard,” the PMO said, adding that Mr Abbasi later met Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.

The crown prince told the prime minister that Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) looked forward to learning from Pakistan’s experience in fighting terror.

Although the official statement is silent on whether Mr Abbasi made any commitment with regard to the IMCTC, it noted that he offered the crown prince “technical and human resource” cooperation for his Vision 2030.

The PMO statement referred to a 1951 accord between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as the basis for bilateral cooperation. The agreement provides for wide-ranging strategic, political, military and economic cooperation between the two countries.

The prime minister’s visit follows closely on the heels of the inauguration of the IMCTC, whose Council of Defence Ministers met on Sunday.

Arab analysts believe the Saudi monarch had invited Pakistani leaders for seeking clarifications about warming of ties with Iran and for hearing from them about the extent of their country’s participation in the IMCTC. Pakistan is in return being offered financial assistance, they add.

A Saudi delegation, led by the trade minister, is expected to visit Pakistan shortly for signing of agreements.

Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir, who represented the country at the IMCTC meeting, said Pakistan would contribute to the activities of the IMCTC in all four areas that the coalition would focus on, including the military component.

He underscored the experience Pakistan gained while fighting terrorism.

The four areas of counterterrorism cooperation identified by the IMCTC are “ideology, communications, counter-terror financing, and military”.

Speaking at IMCTC Defence Ministers Council meeting, Mr Dastagir assured Saudi Arabia and other countries of Pakistan’s support and cooperation within the mutually agreed framework of the IMCTC, the defence ministry said in a statement issued in Islamabad.

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