RIYADH: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday arrived in Saudi Arabia on a one-day visit termed by the Foreign Office as a part of “regular exchanges” between the leadership of the two countries.
“The consultations will cover bilateral matters and recent developments in the regional context,” the FO statement had said.
The premier arrived in Riyadh late in the afternoon after a brief stop over in Madina.
At the royal terminal of the kingdom’s capital, he was greeted by Riyadh Governor Faisal bin Bandar Al Saud and Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz, besides officials of Saudi protocol and officers of Pakistan Consulate.
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood accompanied the premier on the day-long visit.
Earlier, in Madina, PM Imran paid his respects at the Holy Prophet’s grave and offered nawafil in Masjid-i-Nabvi. Upon his arrival, he was received by Madina Deputy Governor Prince Saud Bin Khalid Al Faisal.
Meanwhile, Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Abu Dhabi, according to the military’s spokesperson Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor.
Gen Bajwa called on Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, who is the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
“The regional security environment and matters of mutual interests were discussed,” said an ISPR statement.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had also visited Saudi Arabia earlier this week. Speaking to reporters in Multan on Friday, Qureshi said he met with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud during his visit and informed him about the situation in occupied Kashmir.
According to a Dawn report, an Arab source disclosed that the premier’s visit was recently planned after signals from Riyadh that it was not happy with Prime Minister Imran’s decision to attend the Kuala Lumpur Summit being held in Malaysia from December 18-20.
The Kuala Lumpur Summit is the brainchild of Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Other leaders participating in the summit are Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani. Indonesian President Joko Widodo too was expected to attend the summit, but he has reportedly succumbed to pressure and one of his representatives would now attend the meeting.
Although it is too early to say how this initiative fares, the Saudis are already seeing the summit as an attempt to present an alternative to the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
This is Prime Minister Imran’s fourth visit to Saudi Arabia since May, according to Arab News.
Following a one-day trip to Iran, the premier had last visited the kingdom in October as part of his initiative for peace and security in the region. Soon after his arrival, the premier had called on Saudi King Salman and held a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.