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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman meets Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif upon his arrival in Jeddah on April 29, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has met Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at the Al Salam palace in Jeddah, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said on Saturday.

The two leaders discussed the “prospects of bilateral cooperation and promising opportunities as well as the ways of developing them in various fields,” SPA reported.

They also discussed regional and international issues.

Earlier, Sharif arrived in Jeddah on Friday on the second day of his visit to Saudi Arabia. Governor of Makkah Khalid Bin Faisal Al Saud and Saudia Arabia’s Adviser National Security Dr Musaed Al Aiban received the prime minister.

The prime minister was accompanied by key cabinet members, including Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Miftah Ismail, Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Chaudhry Salik Hussain, Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Mohsin Dawar and Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, APP reported.

During his meetings with Saudi crown prince and other officials, he will discuss among other things advancing economic, trade and investment ties and creation of greater opportunities for the Pakistani workforce in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan’s news agency had said.

Sharif professed enthusiasm before his departure, even speaking in Arabic in a video that praised the “brotherly kingdom” — a country where he spent years in exile and cultivated close ties with top officials.

Sharif’s trip came at the invitation of the Crown Prince, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry reported, in order to advance “economic, trade and investment ties’’ and create “greater opportunities for the Pakistani workforce in Saudi Arabia.’’

The kingdom hosts some 2.7 million Pakistanis, more than any other country. Remittances from expat laborers to Pakistan are projected to reach $32 billion this year, according to Pakistan’s central bank.

“I will have wide-ranging discussions with Saudi leadership,’’ Sharif tweeted, “to renew & reaffirm our bonds of brotherhood & friendship.’’

Shahbaz Sharif was accompanied on his visit by a delegation of some 40 people, including officials and family members — a size that prompted sharp criticism from supporters of ousted PM Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Pakistan Justice Party, and had Sharif vigorously assuring the public he took a commercial flight at his own expense.