Pakistan PM Sharif arrives in Saudi Arabia for first foreign visit

Talks expected to focus on advancing economic, trade and investment ties


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Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif departs for Saudia Arabia. – APP
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif departs for Saudia Arabia. – APP

Published: Thu 28 Apr 2022, 11:24 PM

Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif began his maiden foreign trip Thursday, arriving in Saudi Arabia in a bid to enhance financial support from a country where he spent years in exile.

The kingdom has long been an intelligence partner for Pakistan as well as a regular source of relief for its struggling economy.

“Today I am embarking on a visit to Saudi Arabia to renew & reaffirm our bonds of brotherhood and friendship,” Sharif said on Twitter, adding that the country “has a special place in all our hearts”.

He landed in Madinah, one of the two holiest cities in Islam along with Makkah, where he was greeted by regional officials and planned to pray at the Prophet’s Mosque, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Sharif was sworn in earlier this month after parliament ousted his predecessor Imran Khan in a no-confidence vote.

He inherited a crippling national debt, galloping inflation and a feeble rupee, but has vowed to use “Pakistan speed” to hurry along development projects and jump-start an economic recovery.

His delegation was expected to include Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the 33-year-old scion of Pakistan’s most influential political dynasty who was appointed foreign minister on Wednesday.

Talks are expected to focus “on advancing economic, trade and investment ties and creation of greater opportunities for the Pakistani workforce in Saudi Arabia”, according to a statement from Pakistan’s foreign ministry.

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