ISLAMABAD: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud said on Tuesday that the kingdom is looking to expand the dimensions of its relationship with Pakistan through the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council (SP-SCC).
Prince Faisal was speaking at a press conference alongside Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad, where he arrived earlier today for a day-long visit, after the two held delegation level talks at the Foreign Office.
The SP-SCC, which is co-chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Prime Minister Imran Khan, was established after the two leaders signed an agreement in this regard in May while the latter was on a three-day official visit to Saudi Arabia.
Referring to the visit, the Saudi foreign minister said on Tuesday that he was in Pakistan “to follow up on the important visit of Prime Minister [Imran Khan] to Saudi Arabia in May, during which we established the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council”.
This is Prince Faisal’s second state visit to Pakistan in a year. He was last in Islamabad in December 2020. The foreign office has said the Saudi foreign minister was visiting Pakistan on the invitation of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
The visit by the Saudi FM “holds significance” in the backdrop of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Qureshi’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2021, the foreign office said on Twitter, adding:
“It will provide a timely opportunity to review progress in bilateral coop. in line with vision of the leadership of the two countries.”
“The visit of the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia will further strengthen the ongoing positive momentum in high-level contacts and deepen bilateral cooperation in various fields,” the foreign office said in a separate statement, saying Prince Faisal and the Pakistani foreign minister would meet at the Foreign Ministry shortly.
“After the meeting between the two Foreign Ministers, there will be delegation level talks between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. In addition to all aspects of bilateral relations, important regional and global issues will be discussed during the talks,” the foreign office said. “The Saudi Foreign Minister will also meet with senior government officials during his visit.”
Prior to the arrival of the Saudi foreign minister, senior delegation-level talks were held in Pakistan between officials of the two nations.
“Key focus was on Saudi-Pak Supreme Coordination Council, highest level platform to provide strategic direction to bilateral ties,” the foreign office said.
Earlier in the press conference, Qureshi termed the ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia “historic”, saying that both the countries were “very comfortable” with the way things were moving on the bilateral front.
“What we are focused now on is improving our economic linkages through the enhancement of bilateral trade and promotion of investments,” he said, adding that both the countries aimed to achieve this through the establishment and activation of a special body — the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Consultative Council.
Qureshi said in talks with his Saudi counterpart, he discussed how the body would be structured and what should be their work plan for the purpose.
“We have [also] decided that there will be a focal person at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here and in Saudi Arabia to oversee the progress on the bilateral front,” he said, adding that it would let them look at the bilateral relations in an “institutionalised way”.
The foreign minister identified Vision 2030, a national transformation plan introduced by the Saudi government, as an area in which Pakistan could contribute.
“Our skilled and semi-skilled professionals can make [significant] contributions to Vision 2030,” he said.
In this connection, he also highlighted the importance of building cultural ties through cultural diplomacy.
He added that he and the Saudi foreign minister had also discussed opportunities for Saudi investors to invest in special economic zones under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Qureshi thanked Prince Faisal and the Saudi government for its “unwavering support” to Pakistan on matters relating to the Financial Action Task Force and on the issue of occupied Kashmir.
“They [Saudi Arabia] have shown clarity and consistency in supporting Pakistan [on the Kashmir issue].”
Moreover, he said, he had a discussion on the evolving situation in Afghanistan with Prince Faisal and their approach on the matter was the same.