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A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace shows Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman welcoming Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Jeddah on April 30, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia’s top leadership “affirmed their stance to consolidate security and stability” and condemn violence, extremism and terrorism all across the world as they discussed a wide range of regional and international crises.

“Pakistan deeply values the Kingdom’s continued support to Pakistan,” said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, adding that the three-day (April 28-30) visit would expand “cooperation and engagement on bilateral, regional and issues” between the two countries. PM Sharif met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Al Salam Palace in Jeddah late Friday. This was his first official foreign trip since assuming office on April 11.

Calls for security and stability in the region

Islamabad and Riyadh condemned the Houthi terrorist threat to Saudi Arabia due to the launching of ballistic missiles by Yemeni militants against Saudi installations and expressed their concern about the threat to global energy supplies.

They reiterated support for the efforts made by the Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen, the initiatives aimed at reaching a comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2216, Gulf Initiative” and other related mechanisms. The two sides affirmed their full support for Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council and its supporting entities to enable it to exercise its duties in implementing effective policies and initiatives for security and stability.

South Asia and Afghanistan

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia also called for peace and stability in South Asia. Saudi Arabia “welcomed the statements of Pakistan mentioning its keenness to find a solution to all disputes with India, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.” The two sides stressed the importance of dialogue between Pakistan and India in order to resolve the issues between the two countries to ensure peace and stability in the region, the joint statement said.

Discussing the latest situation in Afghanistan, the two sides “agreed on the need to achieve security and stability, and to prevent the use of Afghan lands as a shelter for terrorist groups.” They also pledged to implement the outcomes of the extraordinary meeting of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on Afghanistan held in Islamabad in December 2021, aimed at supporting stability and providing humanitarian support to the Afghan people.

Palestine and Syria

They also discussed the Palestinian cause and stressed the importance of preserving the status and the Islamic character of Al Quds Al Sharif in the Arab and Islamic nations and achieving comprehensive and just peace under relevant resolutions that “guarantee the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

On the Syria issue, the two sides stressed the importance of reaching a solution to the Syrian crisis that would preserve Syria’s unity and territorial integrity.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia also expressed their hope that the Russian and Ukrainian sides would reach a political solution that would end the crisis, and achieve security and stability.

Economic support to Pakistan

Saudi Arabia affirmed its support to long-time ally Pakistan and discussed augmenting its $3 billion deposits in Pakistan’s central bank “through term extension or otherwise,” according to the joint statement.

In October 2021, Saudi Arabia pledged a $4.2 billion assistance package for Pakistan. It included a deposit of US$3 billion in the State Bank of Pakistan to help support its foreign reserves and a facility to finance oil derivatives trade for US$1.2 billion for one year to Pakistan.

Finance minister Miftah Ismail said that he was still in the kingdom for “technical-level talks” after PM Sharif’s departure from the kingdom as the two sides are exploring options to further enhance the financing of petroleum products and support structural reforms for Pakistan’s economic growth.

Partnership: Industries, Energy and Environment

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia agreed to deepen the investment cooperation and partnerships between the private sector of the two countries, especially in the industrial and mining sectors. The two sides agreed to continue cooperation in the field of the environment.

“Pakistani side valued the Kingdom’s efforts and initiatives in the field of climate change, addressing environmental challenges and improving the quality of life” particularly the ‘Saudi Green’ and ‘Middle East Green’ initiatives.

In the field of energy, the two countries agreed to explore ways of joint cooperation in a number of fields, including innovative uses of hydrocarbons, electricity, clean technologies for hydrocarbon resources, energy efficiency, and localisation of the energy sector. They also discussed cooperation in renewable energy projects.