ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday arrived in Saudi Arabia in his first foreign trip since he assumed the country’s top office last month.
The prime minister was warmly received by Madina Governor Prince Faisal bin Salman, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Khan Hasham bin Saddique, Saudi authorities and official of the consulate.
The premier is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain and Advisor for Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood on the two-day visit.
PM Imran Khan reaches Saudi Arabia on his first official foreign visit: he is accompanied by few cabinet members, including foreign minister @SMQureshiPTI and finance minister @Asad_Umar. #PMIK @ImranKhanPTI pic.twitter.com/1MTZ7k8dLC
— PTI (@PTIofficial) September 18, 2018
“The prime minister will call on His Majesty King Salman and hold a bilateral meeting with the crown prince. The king will also host a state banquet for the prime minister at the Royal Court. Accompanying ministers will also meet their counterparts to discuss bilateral cooperation,” said a statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO).
Although bilateral relations and regional security situation would come under discussions, one of the major agenda items on the table is a Saudi bailout package for the new government.
The PTI government is considering several options to shore up the fast depleting foreign exchange reserves. It is trying to avoid going to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and instead desires to reach out to friendly countries — including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and China — for financial assistance.
Speculation is rife in the media that Saudi Arabia may deposit a certain amount in Pakistan’s exchequer so that the new government may have the necessary cushion given the current state of foreign exchange reserves.
In another option, Saudi Arabia may offer Pakistan oil on deferred payments as it did following the 1998 nuclear explosions when Islamabad was under crippling international economic sanctions.