Saudi-Pakistan vow to reset strained ties

Saudi Arabia and longstanding ally Pakistan signed a number of agreements Saturday and vowed to reset ties strained by months of disagreement over coverage on the Kashmir dispute.

On his seventh go to to the rich kingdom since his 2018 election, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was given a heat welcome by Saudi officers within the western coastal metropolis of Jeddah.

He was greeted by Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the airport, earlier than holding talks with Saudi officers at Jeddah’s Al-Salam Palace.

“They affirmed the depth of relations between the two brotherly countries and underscored the importance of expanding and intensifying aspects of bilateral cooperation and coordination,” a Saudi assertion stated.

Although the dominion was the primary overseas nation Khan visited after taking workplace, Riyadh appeared annoyed with Islamabad final 12 months. 

In a sharply worded assertion in August, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi referred to as on the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to convene a high-level assembly on Kashmir. 

The name raised eyebrows in Riyadh, the place it was broadly seen as a warning that Pakistan was getting ready to name for a session exterior OIC auspices. 

Saudi Arabia prides itself on its position as guardian of Islam’s holiest websites and is especially delicate about any transfer which may undermine its management of the 57-member pan-Islamic physique. 

And whereas the rich nation has supported Pakistan with billions of {dollars} in assist and loans lately, observers say the dominion can be eager not to upset India, a key enterprise associate and importer of Saudi oil.

The kingdom recalled $1 billion of a $3 billion mortgage to cash-strapped Pakistan, and an expired multi-billion-dollar oil credit score facility to Islamabad has not been renewed, a diplomatic supply instructed AFP in September. 

Prior to that, Pakistan rebuffed calls to ship floor troops to assist the troubled Saudi-led army marketing campaign in opposition to Yemen’s Huthi rebels. 

‘Exceptional cordiality’

But PM Khan’s go to appeared to have restored cooperation between the 2 Islamic nations which might be each closely engaged within the “war on terror” which requires efficient intelligence sharing. 

“The two sides stressed the need for concerted efforts by the Islamic world to confront extremism and violence, and reject sectarianism,” the Saudi assertion stated.

The official Saudi Press Agency stated the 2 sides signed agreements addressing the therapy of criminals, and crime.

They additionally agreed on two memorandums of understanding on combating drug trafficking, and on financing power, water and infrastructure tasks.

The two nations additionally agreed to set up a Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council (SPSCC).

“During the meeting, it was agreed to further strengthen, deepen and diversify the existing bilateral political, economic, trade, defence and security ties,” a Pakistani assertion stated.

“The talks were marked by exceptional cordiality and a commitment to fortify the upward trajectory in the bilateral relationship,” it added.

Saudi-Iran strikes

Pakistan has shut hyperlinks with Saudi Arabia, with greater than 2.5 million of its nationals residing and dealing within the kingdom, however it additionally maintains shut ties with Iran and represents Tehran’s consular pursuits within the United States.

For many years, Pakistan has tried to stability its robust relationship with Saudi Arabia and its ties with Iran, with which it shares a close to 1,000-kilometre (625-mile) border. 

In 2019, Khan travelled between Saudi Arabia and Iran in a bid to calm animosities between the rival Muslim powers.

His go to to Jeddah comes as Saudi Arabia and Iran maintain secret talks in Iraq, the primary vital effort to defuse tensions for the reason that regional powers minimize ties in 2016 after Iranian protesters, infuriated over the dominion’s execution of a Shiite cleric, attacked Saudi diplomatic missions.

“The prime minister of Pakistan’s visit to Saudi Arabia is an important milestone in bilateral relations,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan tweeted Saturday.

“The kingdom is keen to further strengthen relations between the brotherly countries as well as enable broader economic cooperation.”

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