RIYADH - Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and King Salman Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia discussed bilateral relations and Pakistan’s role in the 41-nation Islamic military alliance as well as the regional and international issues of mutual interest, as they met here Monday during the former’s one-day visit to the Kingdom.

The prime minister was accompanied by Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Chief of the Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar.

During the visit, the prime minister held meetings with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and the Crown Prince His Royal Highness Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud.

King Salman Bin Abdulaziz also hosted a luncheon in honour of the visiting Prime Minister and his delegation.

During his meeting with the King, the two dignitaries reviewed the entire spectrum of their bilateral relations in addition to regional and international issues. They also discussed ways and means to further enhance their bilateral relations in diverse fields.

The prime minister lauded the efforts of the Saudi leadership in bringing peace and stability in the region and assured the Saudi King of Pakistan’s full support in this regard.

The Saudi King praised the excellent relations that exist between the two sides and efforts of Pakistan in rooting out the menace of terrorism and extremism from its soil. The country’s top brass also discussed Pakistan’s expected role in the Coalition and would commit the services only after reaching a consensus considering the regional sensitivity in meetings with Saudi Arabia government.

The final declaration issued on Sunday after the defence ministers meeting in Riyadh suggested that it would be up to the member states to decide the extent of their participation in the coalition, something that would provide enough room to Pakistan to maintain a delicate balance in its ties — both with Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The alliance’s terms of reference (TORs) were finalised at a meeting of defence ministers of the member countries forming the Coalition.

Within the framework of the IMCTC, participation of the coalition states will be defined in accordance with each country’s capabilities and resources, as well as in accordance with each country’s desire to participate in a given military operation.

Pakistan had principally agreed to be part of the coalition but withheld its decision regarding the extent of its role till the ToRs were finalised. While agreeing to be part of the coalition, Pakistan had all along stated that it would not allow its troops to participate in any military action outside the country. Islamabad also insisted that it would not become part of any initiative aimed at any other Islamic country.

During his meeting with the Crown Prince, the Prime Minister praised his vision for launching the national economic transformation plan ‘Vision 2030’ and offered Pakistan’s technical and human resource assistance in achieving it.

He also appreciated the efforts and dedication of the Crown Prince in launching a unified platform of Muslim countries, in the form of Islamic Military Alliance to Combat Terrorism (IMCTC), for countering the menaces of extremism and terrorism that were distorting the real essence of Islam.

The Crown Prince, while appreciating the efforts of Pakistan in fighting terrorism and its active participation in IMCTC, said that Saudi Arabia and other countries of the coalition looked forward to learn from Pakistan’s experience in this field.

He underscored the fact that there was a great potential for further strengthening of our bilateral relations, especially in the fields of economy, trade, investment and defence. 

Earlier upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister was received at King Salman Airbase by the Governor of Riyadh province, Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Al Saud.

This was the second visit of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to Saudi Arabia. Earlier the Prime Minister visited Saudi Arabia soon after assuming office.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy close and fraternal relations. The traditionally warm bilateral relations are based on mutual trust and common aspirations of the people of the two countries.

The two countries signed a ‘Treaty of Friendship’ in 1951 which lays the foundation of our bilateral relations.

Later, the prime minister left for Pakistan at the conclusion of his visit.