RIYADH/ ISLAMABAD              -          Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday visited Saudi Arabia as part of the regular exchanges at the leadership level between Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The prime minister held wide-ranging consultations with Crown Prince His Royal Highness Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), covering bilateral matters and developments in the regional context, said a press release issued from Islamabad.

Prime Minister Khan emphasized the strategic importance of Pak-Saudi relationship and termed it a pivotal partnership for peace, progress and prosperity.

He extended warm felicitations on Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s assumption of G20 Presidency. He said this was a reflection of the Kingdom’s leadership role and stature in the international community.

In the bilateral context, the prime minister underscored the unique strength of the bilateral relations, which are based on mutual trust and understanding.

He noted that the high level visits were the hallmark of the relationship and Crown Prince Mohammed’s visit to Pakistan in February 2019 had ushered in a new era of deeper engagement across the economic, investment, energy, security and defence, and people-to-people domains.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the ongoing bilateral cooperation. It was noted that the establishment of the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council (SPSCC) had provided a firm institutional mechanism to advance bilateral cooperation in diverse fields in a robust manner.

The two sides hoped to further advance this process during the second meeting of the SPSCC expected to take place early next year.

Premier Khan apprised the Crown Prince of the latest situation in Indian Occupied Jammu &

Kashmir, marked by continuous lockdown and other restrictions since 5 August 2019, accompanied by India’s belligerent rhetoric and actions on the Line of Control.

He thanked Saudi Arabia for its traditional support to the Kashmir cause, including its active role in the OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir. The two sides discussed ways of further advancing the Kashmir cause through the OIC and other means.

In the context of the Middle East, the prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s perspective that disputes and differences be resolved through political and diplomatic means. Pakistan would continue to facilitate all efforts in that direction with a view to precluding conflict, defusing tensions and preserving peace for the benefit of the region and the world.

The Saudi side offered all possible support in the development of tourism sector in Pakistan. It was agreed that a Saudi team would undertake a visit to Pakistan soon for this purpose.

As a special gesture Crown Prince Mohamad Bin Salman came with Prime Minister Imran Khan after the bilateral meeting to see him off at Riyadh International Airport.

Earlier, the premier arrived in Saudi capital late in the afternoon after a brief stopover in Madinah, where he offered Nawafil at Roza-e-Rasool (SAW). Deputy Governor of Madinah Waheeb Al-Sahli and Pakistan Consul General in Jeddah Khalid Majeed warmly received him at the royal terminal.

Upon his arrival in Saudi capital later, he was received at the airport by Riyadh Governor Faisal bin Bandar Al Saud and Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz, besides officials of Saudi protocol and officers of Pakistan Consulate. Foreign Affairs Secretary Sohail Mahmood also accompanied the prime minister.

This was Prime Minister Imran Khan’s fourth visit to Saudi Arabia since May 2019, reflecting the importance attached by Pakistan to this strategic partnership. The leadership on both sides remains determined to take Pakistan-Saudi relations to a new level.

During the previous visit of PM Imran Khan to the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s leadership had agreed to remain engaged and consult Pakistan closely to take forward the premier’s initiative to ensure peace and security in the region.

Prior to his KSA visit, PM Khan had held a meeting with Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani at Saadabad Palace in Tehran.

Speaking at a joint presser alongside the Iranian president, PM Khan had said Pakistan is willing to play its role towards strengthening peace and stability in the region.

“War between Saudi Arabia and Iran should never happen. The issue is complex but can be resolved through dialogue for which I am here”, he had said.