Saudi Prince postponed his trip to Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Saturday postponed his trip to Pakistan. 

Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, in a brief statement issued in this regard, confirmed that the visit was being rescheduled. “The new dates will be mutually finalised by the two sides,” she said. The crown prince was invited by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on a telephonic conversation between the two in September. It would have been the first visit by the Saudi crown prince to Pakistan after the change of government in Pakistan in April this year.

Islamabad hoped to get a $4.2 billion bailout package from Riyadh during the Saudi crown prince’s visit, diplomatic sources had said.

The Saudi leader’s rare visit was tentatively scheduled for November 21. Moreover, Saudi Arabia was also expected to make solid investments in Pakistan. Sources also said that a number of Pakistan-Saudi petroleum agreements were being finalised for signing during the visit of his excellency.

The government was also counting on a likely agreement that will help round up financial support from Saudi Arabia for the establishment of a state-of-the-art refinery in Gwadar.

The crown prince had last visited Pakistan in February 2019 during the term of former prime minister Imran Khan.

Meanwhile, Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammad bin Salman cancelled a planned visit to New Delhi due to “scheduling issues” on both sides, according to Indian media sources. While the visit was not officially announced, it has been under planning for several weeks, after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had delivered a letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September, inviting the Saudi Prince.

According to local media, MBS also postponed his visit to South Korea and new date is expected to be announced soon in this regard.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Interfaith Harmony and Middle East Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi on Saturday said Saudi Arabia’s Prime Minister and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman had postponed his visit to Pakistan due to personal engagements.

Ashrafi, who is also the chairman of Pakistan Ulema Council, said, as per reports, the Crown Prince had not only postponed his visit to Pakistan but also delayed his visit to some other countries.

“As soon as his visit is rescheduled, it would be intimated to the quarters concerned,” he added. He also clarified that Pakistan’s internal affairs had nothing to do with the postponement of Crown Prince’s visit.

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