–Pakistan, UAE agree to strengthen ties, curb white collar crime
–PM thanks crown prince for ‘generous’ $3 billion balance-of-payments support
–Crown prince says UAE places great importance to strengthening its relations with Pakistan at various levels
–Fawad says UAE to build oil refinery in Pakistan as part of ‘huge investment’
ISLAMABAD: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan and Prime Minister Imran Khan held talks on strengthening the relations between the two countries, in addition to the current regional and global, during the former’s brief visit to Pakistan.
This is the first visit of the crown prince in 12 years. The visit came after the PM invited the prince on his visit to the UAE, making it the third meeting over the past three months.
Last week, the UAE had agreed to finalise the terms and conditions of a $6.2 billion support package for Pakistan to help address the economic crisis of balance of payments.
According to a joint statement issued after the visit culminated, PM Imran thanked the crown prince for the “generous” balance-of-payments support of $3 billion, which appears to have materialised first out of the total $6.2bn financial package.
The two leaders agreed that the forthcoming Pakistan-UAE Joint Ministerial Commission, which would be co-chaired by the respective foreign ministers in Abu Dhabi in February 2019, could play a pivotal role in chalking out a comprehensive roadmap, and in fast-tracking the approval of pending agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs).
The two leaders instructed the authorities concerned to expedite the finalisation of the Mutual Legal Assistance agreement to counter white collar crimes, including money laundering.
They also expressed satisfaction at the ongoing defence and security cooperation, and resolved to explore further collaboration in the areas of training, joint exercises and defence production.
“The visit underscored the strength and substance of the Pakistan-UAE special relationship, which is based on the spirit of mutual affection and deep trust, and is rooted in age-old civilisational, religious, cultural and commercial affinities,” the statement said.
In addition to one-on-one talks with the PM, both sides also held delegation-level talks. The premier led the Pakistani delegation, comprising Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Interior Minister Sheryar Afridi and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, while Sheikh Mohammed led the UAE side.
According to reports, Sheikh Mohamed affirmed his keenness to develop cooperation with Pakistan to serve the two countries common interests. “The UAE, under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, places great importance to strengthening its relations with Pakistan at various levels,” he added.
TALKS ON OIL REFINERY FINALISED:
Speaking to reporters after the visit, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said the UAE would build an oil refinery in Pakistan, adding that talks for the huge investment had been finalised during the visit of the crown prince.
A deep-conversion oil refinery is to be set up by Parco — a joint venture of Pakistan and Abu Dhabi — worth $5-6bn at Khalifa Point and an expected petro-chemical complex by Saudi Arabia at Gwadar Oil City.
Fawad further said that the UAE had already announced $3 billion cash support to help Pakistan overcome its balance of payment crisis while the provision of oil facility on deferred payment was under discussion.
The UAE had supported Pakistan in the critical time as its leadership considered the country as their second home, he said, adding the two countries had very close and fraternal relations.
The minister said the visit would further deepen the already cordial relations between Pakistan and the UAE.
‘OIL ON DEFERRED PAYMENT UNDER DISCUSSION’:
Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan said the visit of the crown prince would have very positive results. The UAE leadership, he said, has assured PM Imran of help to steer Pakistan out of the present economic crisis.
He said during the delegation-level talks, both sides discussed the provision of oil facility on deferred payment to Pakistan like that of Saudi Arabia.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari said the UAE was Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and a major source of investments. He said both the sides also discussed the issue of Pakistanis imprisoned in the UAE jails. He said the crown prince was requested to softly deal the issue of those prisoners who were involved in petty crimes. A mechanism about it would be formed by the two countries, he added.
Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, who last visited Pakistan in 2007, was given a red-carpet welcome and a 21-gun salute when he arrived at Nur Khan Airbase during Sunday afternoon amid much fanfare in the capital. Upon his arrival, PM Imran Khan hugged the crown prince as he stepped off the plane and then, setting aside protocol, drove him personally to the PM House where a welcome ceremony honouring him was held.
Guard of honor was also given to the Crown Prince.
— Prime Minister's Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO) January 6, 2019
Meanwhile, billboards were put up across the city to welcome the visiting dignitary that showed the crown prince’s face and positive messages on Pak-UAE ties.
At the old PM House, a guard of honour was given by a contingent of the armed forces to the visiting dignitary, who reviewed the parade. The national anthems of both countries were played, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed was given a fly-past by an impressive formation of JF-17 fighter jets.
Both delegations discussed bilateral relations and matters of mutual, regional and international interest.
The crown prince’s visit lasted till 3pm as he left for the UAE after back-to-back meetings. Before his departure, the foreign dignitary was presented with a photo album depicting his engagements during the visit.
The new UAE package will help Pakistan save a total of about $7.9bn on oil and gas imports from Saudi Arabi and the UAE, accounting for over 60 per cent of the annual oil import bill that amounts to roughly $12-13bn.
The new support package from the UAE is the same size and has the same terms and conditions as those given by Saudi Arabia, according to reports.
This includes about $3.2bn each of oil supplies on deferred payments from the UAE and Saudi Arabia and about $1.5bn trade finance from the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC).
The total financing support from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, including the ITFC’s trade finance, is to be around $13.9-14bn with the inclusion of cash deposits of $3bn each from the two countries, reports claimed.