The prime minister is accompanied on his visit by Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Shahzain Bugti, Mohsin Dawar, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqi, Chaudhry Salik, and four members of PM Shehbaz Sharif’s personal staff.
After landing in Saudi Arabia, the prime minister was greeted by Governor Madinah Faisal bin Salman Al Saud and other high-ranking Saudi officials.
سعودی عرب کے ولی عہد شہزادہ محمد بن سلمان بن عبدالعزیز کی دعوت پر وزیراعظم محمد شہبازشریف وفد کے ہمراہ سعودی عرب کے تین روزہ اعلی سطحی سرکاری دورے پر مدینہ منورہ پہنچ گئے ہیں۔
گورنر مدینہ فیصل بن سلمان آل سعود نے اعلی سعودی حکام کے ہمراہ ہوائی اڈے پر وزیر اعظم کا استقبال کیا۔ pic.twitter.com/3tZBs6lEBq
— Prime Minister's Office (@PakPMO) April 28, 2022
The prime minister met briefly with Madinah’s governor, during which the two leaders discussed bilateral relations.
PM Shehbaz announced on Twitter before departing for Saudi Arabia that his visit will “renew and reinforce” the two nations’ ties. He also stated that he will have extensive conversations with Saudi authorities.
Today I am embarking on a visit to Saudi Arabia to renew & reaffirm our bonds of brotherhood & friendship. I will have wide-ranging discussions with Saudi leadership. KSA is one of our greatest friends & as Custodian of the Two Holy Places, has a special place in all our hearts.
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) April 28, 2022
Briefing on the visit, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar, in a statement, had said that the prime minister will be in the kingdom from April 28-30.
During the visit, the prime minister will have bilateral interaction with the Saudi leadership, with a particular focus on advancing economic, trade and investment ties, and creating greater opportunities for the Pakistani workforce in Saudi Arabia, the spokesperson said.
“The two sides will also exchange views on a range of regional and international issues of mutual interest,” the spokesperson said.
Iftikhar said Pakistan and KSA are bound by fraternal relationships marked by mutual trust and understanding, close cooperation, and an abiding tradition of supporting each other.
The Pakistani people revere the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques with the greatest regard, according to the statement.
“Close mutual collaboration in regional and international fora complements the bilateral partnership. The OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir has Saudi Arabia as a member “he said
According to Iftikhar, more than two million Pakistanis live in Saudi Arabia, contributing to the two nations’ progress, prosperity, and economic development.
Regular high-level visits, according to the spokesman, are a significant component of this particular relationship.
Iftikhar went on to say that the prime minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia will give a boost to bilateral cooperation in a variety of sectors and strengthen the two nations’ burgeoning friendship.
Pakistan to ask for additional $3.2b from Saudi Arabia
In order to avoid further depletion of foreign currency reserves, Pakistan has chosen to request an extra $3.2 billion package from Saudi Arabia during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s current visit, bringing the total facility to $7.4 billion from the present $4.2 billion.
“We are going to request the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to increase the amount of the deposit from $3 billion to $5 billion and double the Saudi Oil Facility (SOF) from $1.2 billion to $2.4 billion, so the total package could be increased up to $7.4 billion during the visit of premier Shehbaz Sharif,” top official sources told The News on Wednesday.
When asked about the planned package from Saudi Arabia, one of the senior officials in the Finance Division responded, “We are demanding a deferred payment facility and boosting the credit granted for FX support.”
However, in his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and other key dignitaries, the top official displayed reluctance to provide further information regarding the specific facts to be asked by PM Shehbaz Sharif before the KSA authorities.