PM, Saudi crown prince express resolve to boost relationship

— Latest call comes a day after Saudi Arabia renewed a $3 billion deposit in central bank

ISLAMABAD: The prime minister and Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, on Monday expressed the resolve to further strengthen the strong, longstanding fraternal ties between the two nations.

In a telephonic conversation, the two leaders also exchanged views on issues of mutual interest, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement.

According to the statement, Sharif conveyed his “deep respects” to Salman bin Abdulaziz, the oil-rich kingdom’s king.

The call comes a day after Saudi Arabia agreed to renew a $3 billion deposit at the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to bolster the country’s depleted foreign reserves as Islamabad negotiates an aid package with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The world’s top oil exporter, which has traditionally provided financial aid to Islamabad, has also agreed to support Pakistan with $1 billion in petroleum products over 10 months, the Financial Times reported.

The assistance could help Pakistan secure a $1.2 billion payment from the IMF, whose board is set to meet this month to approve the disbursement.

During the conversation Monday, the crown prince congratulated the prime minister and the people of Pakistan on the 75th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence.

He also conveyed his “best wishes” for the continued progress, prosperity and development of Pakistan.

The two also reviewed the progress made on the decisions taken by the two sides during the maiden visit of Shehbaz Sharif after assuming the top office in April.

They resolved to expedite the ongoing cooperation in investment, energy and trade fields.

Recalling the historic support extended by the kingdom to Pakistan in testing times, the prime minister thanked the crown prince for the recent economic and development support his government provided to Islamabad.

Sharif also reiterated his “cordial invitation” to the crown prince for a visit which he “graciously accepted”, the statement announced.

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