Saudi crown prince to visit for business, defence cooperation talks

Published: February 13, 2014
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During the visit, Prince Salman would hold talks with the president and the prime minister on bilateral and international matters of mutual interest. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

During the visit, Prince Salman would hold talks with the president and the prime minister on bilateral and international matters of mutual interest. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who also serves as the deputy prime minister and minister for defence of the kingdom, is scheduled to visit Pakistan from February 15-17 on the invitation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for talks on subject.

According to a Foreign Office (FO) release, the Saudi crown prince would be leading a high powered delegation including Minister of Economy and Planning Dr Mohammed bin Sulaiman Al-Jasser, Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al Rabiah, and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Nizar Bin Obaid Madani along with important Saudi businessmen.

The visit is of special significance since it would be his first visit to Pakistan after assuming this position. He had earlier visited Pakistan in 1998 when was serving as the governor of Riyadh.

During the visit, Prince Salman is expected hold talks with the President and the prime minister on bilateral and international matters of mutual interest.

Among other senior dignitaries, the minister for defence, the minister for finance, the speaker of the national assembly, the adviser to the prime minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs and the chief of Army Staff would be calling on the crown prince.

The key topics in the agenda include ways to increase export of Pakistani manpower to Saudi Arabia and to facilitate the Pakistani community residing in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Later, Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam Khan explained that there is no specific reference to stationing of Pakistani troops in Saudi Arabia, though other defence matters are expected to come under discussion.

“We have been providing training to the Saudi Armed Forces. We would also be interested in sale of arms to Saudi Arabia like JF-17 Thunder and Mushshaq aircraft and other equipment.”

Categorically denying that Saudi Arabia was interested in acquiring nuclear arsenal from Pakistan, the spokesperson said “Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are not discussing nuclear cooperation.”

She added that Pakistani nuclear installations were safe with the country dealing with nuclear technology for more than 40 years. “We have a number of nuclear power plants in the civilian domain. We have a nuclear weapons program which is a declared one. We have extensive security regimes for both. Our civilian nuclear program is under IAEA safeguards and it is meant to provide energy and it is also used in agriculture and medical fields.”

She concluded that talks on nuclear installations was propaganda. “This campaign is motivated and baseless and we reject it.”

As for a draft defence-cum-security pact between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia having been prepared for signing during the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince, the FO spokesperson said a number of proposals are under consideration, and they will “probably be finalised over the next two or three days.”

Trade with India

On the issue of trade with India and postponement of its trade minister’s visit, the spokesperson said, that only the Indian side can answer for why they cancelled the visit.

On the resumption of the trade route across the Line of Control in Kashmir, the spokesperson said that Pakistan did not want to create impediments in trade.

“We have already decided to restore trade because it is for the Kashmiris and for their interaction and benefit. We decided that Pakistan should not be the one creating any impediments. We do hope that similar gestures would be visible from the other side.”

She elaborated, “Now it is up to the local authorities to decide how they want to proceed with this.… India had proposed that we should hold the meeting of the Joint Working Group on cross-LoC CBMs.”

This meeting, the foreign spokesperson said, is likely to take place in Delhi during this month probably after Feb 22 or 23. We hope that during this meeting, we will be able to work out and agree on some arrangements to improve the systems on the line of control (LoC) and monitoring of the cargo that goes both ways so that any incident of this nature does not happen in future. “

About the minister’s allegation that there was no clarity on Pakistan side regarding granting MFN status to India, she said, “We agreed on certain timelines. There were Pakistan’s concerns that were presented when the two commerce ministers met and there were Indian concerns. They agreed on a number of measures and timelines to achieve those. Since the meeting was held in India, we expected the Indian side to provide the agreed points to us that we discussed. But when the communication arrived, it somehow skipped some parts that were of interest to Pakistan. We have sought a clarification that is where the matters are at the moment. I think, visit may have been cancelled because we still did not have the clarity on how to proceed forward.”

Karzai and Obama stalemate

To a question regarding stalemate between President Karzai and President Obama on signing the BSA, the spokesperson said, “We are very clear that we want peace and stability and we are willing to help in whatever way we can. When and how the US and Afghanistan sort out whatever differences they have, is their business.”

However, the spokesperson added that Pakistan’s reservations on use of Afghan soil also extended to the use of bases on the other side of the Durand line.

Drone strikes in Pakistan are directly related to BSA because there are four air bases in Afghanistan from where drones are operated, she explained, “When we say that Afghan territory should not be used against Pakistan, it covers drone attacks as well. About the spillover effect, yes, we are aware of that.”

She added, “There is a question of Afghan refugees as well. Return of those who are already here and apprehensions that if the security situation is not stable, more refugees may pour in. So we have these concerns and that is why we have very high stakes in peace and stability in Afghanistan. We are working with the Afghan government and other international partners.”

To a query whether Pakistan is looking to expand its relations with NATO beyond 2014, the foreign office spokesperson replied, “We have ongoing engagement; we have regular dialogue at various levels, and there are also some mechanisms that are under consideration on how to formalise our dialogue and cooperation.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • Major Iqbal
    Feb 13, 2014 - 10:33PM

    Pakistanis are so eager to appease the Saudis and yet the Saudis don’t even want you folks to set foot in their country.

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  • Nadir
    Feb 13, 2014 - 10:43PM

    Great! Another overlord to come and tell us what to do and encourage further butchering of shias and anyone else they seem unworthy.

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  • Raj - USA
    Feb 13, 2014 - 11:27PM

    First it was the Saudi Foreign Minister who visited Pakistan. Then Pakistan’s COAS visited Saudi Arabia. Now Saudi deputy prime minister and defense minister is visiting Pakistan. Pakistan is led and pushed to serve a purpose we all know. Unfortunately, Pakistan cannot resist the saudis. Pakistan will toe the saudi line and their dictation. It cannot be avoided when Pakistan’s prime minister himself with his family were living in asylum in saudi arabia and also that army generals like Musharraf owe favors to saudis. I think that the saudi defense minister will be meeting and even throwing up a party for many 2nd and 3rd level army generals of Pakistan during his visit to cultivate more closer ties.

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  • Arsalan
    Feb 13, 2014 - 11:35PM

    Our relationship with Saudi Arabia can be considered a question mark, as it has been funding the state and non-state entities in Pakistan for some time now. ET Please help us understand the benefit to our society, culture, and economy by maintaining a big brotherly relationship with Saudi Arabia.
    On a side note it seems like its a rescue mission for Gen (rtd) Musharraf where he will be treated in Saudi Arabia by “Pakistani Doctors”.
    With reference to defense pact, our military has served Saudi Arabia in covert missions which not necessarily has any ethical justifications. Whereas in case of our own security troubles or in the event of war I doubt Saudi Arabia will provide us with any military assistance.

    I wish we all live in peace and with our own free ideology relevant to our culture and society.

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  • confused
    Feb 13, 2014 - 11:49PM

    @Major Iqbal:
    Do you know Pakistan gets almost half of its foreign remittances from people working in Saudi Arabia alone? Recently almost a million illegal Pakistanis were re-issued visas to work there and feed their families/continue remittance inflow!

    Do you know which country gave free oil to Pakistan during its wars including 1965, 71, etc and which country gave India free oil during that period?

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  • ground reality
    Feb 13, 2014 - 11:52PM

    @Major Iqbal:
    As a “Major” I’m surprised at your lack of knowledge about which brotherly country fully funded Pakistan’s nuclear program and gifted us “our” F-16s.

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  • Khan
    Feb 14, 2014 - 12:46AM

    @ground reality:

    My dear friend Major Iqbal is in reality Mr. Shudra from INDIA………..Hiding behind Muslim name……So just read his comment and enjoy HINDUS hatred…..Dont take it seriously.

    Pakistan enjoy special relationship with all Muslim world, especially, due to being a Majority Muslim Nation.

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  • rehman
    Feb 14, 2014 - 1:01AM

    why saudi’s are visiting pakistan so often????

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  • Pmahmud
    Feb 14, 2014 - 1:24AM

    India is never happy with Pakistan’s relations with any other country. Period.

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  • Aslam Butt
    Feb 14, 2014 - 2:08AM

    They call themselves ‘khadim-e-Hermain’ but have the audacity of not only naming the doors to Kabbah Sharif in their name (Bab-e-Shah Fahad, Bab-e-Abdul Aziz etc) not only that they call themselves ‘shah’ on those doors as well.

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  • qbc
    Feb 14, 2014 - 2:32AM

    @ground reality:
    both things you said are a myth do you know which country sponsors extreamism in pakistan do you know which country sponsors the taliban who have killed over 54,000 civilians in pakistan there picture is at the top of this page.

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  • Major Iqbal
    Feb 14, 2014 - 3:21AM

    @ground reality:
    @confused:

    They didn’t give free oil or F16s to you out of kindness.

    Why don’t you go to Saudi Arabia and see how they treat your fellow countrymen.

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  • Hindu-MuslimHunter
    Feb 14, 2014 - 7:16AM

    Forwarding their goals of completing Gazwa E Hind 2, after Gazwa E Hind 1 was forced down by the Sons of Bharata, this is not Iran or Arabia!!, but Hind.The Scythian migrants to the Indus Valley, is their tool.Meanwhile, the used scyths have noo time to build up their own clans or educate and feed their children.

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  • BLing BLing
    Feb 14, 2014 - 8:00AM

    What business? They only sell oil.

    The only co-operation will be Saudis ordering Pakistan how to impose Shariat and give directions to Taliban about where to kill next.

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  • Asad Khan
    Feb 14, 2014 - 10:00AM

    @Raj – USA:

    First it was the Saudi Foreign Minister who visited Pakistan. Then Pakistan’s COAS visited Saudi Arabia. Now Saudi deputy prime minister and defense minister is visiting Pakistan. Pakistan is led and pushed to serve a purpose we all know. Unfortunately, Pakistan cannot resist the saudis. Pakistan will toe the saudi line and their dictation. It cannot be avoided when Pakistan’s prime minister himself with his family were living in asylum in saudi arabia and also that army generals like Musharraf owe favors to saudis. I think that the saudi defense minister will be meeting and even throwing up a party for many 2nd and 3rd level army generals of Pakistan during his visit to cultivate more closer ties.

    You Again….Rajkumar of USA

    and you got it all wrong again.

    Pak never accepted the dictation of India let alone Saudi on her strategic matters. Yes, US time to time get the ball on her own terms but that is a different kettle of fish. (isn’t USA pulled a fast one on Germany recently?)

    Saudia always remains on good terms with Pak, unless Paks done something terribly stupid like become illegal after performing Umrah ettc, No country either friend on fore does let anybody to play mockery of her Interior rules.

    Apart from GCC Saudia may have good relations with many countries around the globe but she does not have close friendship with countries in & around the region.

    Coming years, Saudia wants to build solid partnership in & around the region. Pakistan is the natural choice this partnership.

    regards,

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  • scotchpak
    Feb 14, 2014 - 10:00AM

    The welcome mat extended by “Pakistan”, represented through the “democratically elected” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made me wonder why “we” would extend such a welcome to a tyrant of Arabia. These rulers of Arabia with their pseudo claim to a “virtual” religious throne and their special hate for the poor Pakistanis slaves who work there, does not qualify them for such loving treatment here. Their shameful treatment of workers in Arabia is famous all over the world. Why then would the PM of a country of 180 million extend such a welcome? With every such welcome the respect of our workers abroad is diminished incrementally. If the elite (PM included) of our country continues to squander our wealth on silly welcome slogans written on pieces of cloth and portray us a dim-witted idiots who really love our guests despite the treatment they give up in their country then we deserve this PM. Yes, we are poor and yes, we are not well educated and yes, we lack the social graces and for all the fore mentioned reasons we the workers are told that we degrade our countries image abroad; But is it not the PM of this country who blocks our roads, wastes our time and spends on lavish feasts for the obese and overfed guests not degrade the image of a poor country as wellRecommend

  • Mirza
    Feb 14, 2014 - 10:14AM

    @Raj – USA:
    @Nadir:
    @Major Iqbal: And others. I agree with you. On one hand we had a strong statement from Iran against Pakistan on the other we are having one Saudi after another. While many Pakistanis work in SA but at the lowest wages. Other countries like Philippines, India, and BD send their workers but they do not become their slaves in foreign policy and do not give up their culture. Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and others are good Muslims but proud of their own heritage and more respected in the world. Last but not the least why mostly Pakistanis are beheaded in Saudi Arabia not a single European, American or other white person?

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  • Feb 14, 2014 - 10:51AM

    @Khan: Please look around you and think. Thanx and Salams

    A denial by the spokesperson of the FO stating there is no ‘specific reference’ to stationing Pak troops in Saudia needs an explicit reminder that Pak troops are required in their HOME COUNTRY and not anywhere else; especially KARACHI. Salams

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  • shah_MIKE
    Feb 14, 2014 - 11:11AM

    Well saudi’s first of all never gave us anything for free! About the oil and other aids they never reached us, while we have been actively supporting them on all fronts with human resources and material as well, from saudi yemen war to erradicating uprising in KSA and Bahrain, remember these shiekh’s are heavily under debt from us but due to our relentless gutless stand of our leaders we have been reduced to beggars

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  • Raj - USA
    Feb 14, 2014 - 12:02PM

    @Major Iqbal:
    No need to go to KSA. Heard recently in a Pakistani TV channel that millions of acres of fertile land in and near Rahim Yar Khan are owned by Saudis and other Gulf sheikhs. There are many such areas in Pakistan. These sheikhs own these lands in Pakistan although it is officially called a 99 year lease. They have fenced off these areas and no Pakistani, probably even its army, can enter these areas. Pakistan’s government has provided them irrigation facilities and the sheikhs grow organic food crops there and ship it to their countries. No one really knows what is happening in these areas within Pakistan itself. Remember Shamsi Airfield? The Gulf Shekihs gave it away to US for their drone operations and they did not require Pakistan’s permission for that.

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  • Arslan
    Feb 14, 2014 - 2:25PM

    Oh Papa is coming

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  • kamran
    Feb 14, 2014 - 2:53PM

    Saudi desperation is showing. But short lived half measures will not change the ground reality that is rapidly developing across the region.

    The tides are changing…it is just a matter of a few more years.

    Recommend

  • antanu
    Feb 14, 2014 - 7:45PM

    @Major Iqbal:
    then why the prince is visiting pakistan? sour grapes for some….I presumeRecommend

  • Rex Minor
    Feb 15, 2014 - 3:50PM

    What a load of crap coming from Indian commenters around the globe about the land from where the modern homo sapien originated( instead of Africa which was previously estimated) and is the largest source of energy supplies for the world industry. The land which receives cosmic energy and is therefore recommended for muslims to visit once in their life time to receive blessings from the almighty creator. Pakistanis should welcome the visit of the Prince of Saudi Arabia who is definitely coming with a large entourage to sign up large contracts which will mostly benefit Pakistan; who most probably is also playing the role of a medium for Saudi Puchase of Chinese military equipment in the future.

    Rex Minor

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