Pakistan, S Arabia relations warm up again

Riyadh hints at resuming oil on deferred payment facility


Karman Yousaf June 13, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

Pakistani and Saudi Arabian foreign ministers on Saturday held a telephonic conversation in what appears to be the latest sign of warming up of relations between the two countries –improvement in ties to be accompanied by a possible resumption of oil on deferred payment facility by Riyadh.

The telephonic talk was a continuation of the efforts by the two sides to remove irritants in ties particularly after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia last month.

The visit during which the prime minister was given a rousing welcome helped reset ties that had been in the past marred by differences on certain issues.  At one point the relationship was so tense that Pakistan had to return a $3 billion loan to Saudi Arabia ahead of schedule.

It was for the first time that Pakistan had to repay a loan to the kingdom as Saudi Arabia had previously either rolled over the money or converted it into a grant. But after the visit of the prime minister and other engagements between the two countries, the relationship is thought to be back on track.

In a post-budget press conference, Minister for Finance Shaukat Tarin on Friday told reporters that Pakistan is in talks with Saudi Arabia for the resumption of oil supply on deferred payment.

It is expected that the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia will soon undertake a visit to Islamabad.

A statement issued by the foreign office after the Saturday conversation between Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said the foreign ministers reviewed the outcomes of the PM’s successful visit.

The foreign ministers agreed to work together towards the early and effective implementation of decisions taken by the leadership of the two countries. Qureshi also reaffirmed Pakistan's support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the kingdom.
The two foreign ministers also discussed bilateral cooperation in various fields, as well as the two countries' cooperation in multilateral organizations.  They also exchanged views on global and regional issues of mutual interest.
“Commensurate with the close and cordial relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the foreign ministers of both countries hold frequent consultations on diverse issues,” it said.

The two foreign ministers met twice in May; first, during the visit of the prime minister to Saudi Arabia, and then on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting on Palestine in New York.

During the call, the foreign ministers reaffirmed long-standing and fraternal ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi foreign minister apprised Qureshi about the challenges of organizing Hajj in 2021 and the policy measures taken by the kingdom in the larger interest of public health.

“Foreign Minister Qureshi conveyed his understanding of the situation and expressed confidence in the decisions taken in public interest by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,” it added.

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