Saudi crown prince to start official visit to Pakistan, China, India

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The Prime Minister expressed gratitude to the Crown Prince for his immediate consent to release 2107 prisoners from Saudi jails. The Saudi side praised Prime Minister Imran Khan's dialogue offer to India including the initiative on opening of Kartarpur corridor. Prime Minister Imran Khan was also introduced to members of Saudi delegation on the occasion.

One of the agreements is about Saudi Arabia's Aramco-run refinery in the Pakistani port of Gwadar, one of the world's largest refineries, at a value of 10 billion USA dollars.

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Former Pakistani diplomat, Asif Durrani, insisted the militant attacks in Iran and Indian Kashmir could be an attempt to overshadow the royal visit and put Pakistan under pressure.

For Saudi Arabia, itself in need of friends after prompting global outrage over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi past year at its consulate in Istanbul, the fulsome tributes were no doubt welcome but officials said the accords were economically significant.

He is the architect of a wide-ranging plan for social and economic reforms known as Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the economy of the Kingdom and reduce its reliance on oil.

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The crown prince's visit to Islamabad will also apparently coincide with possible new talks between the Taliban and the United States on Afghanistan. Entry into the fortified diplomatic zone was banned, and the airspace over the city was shut down.

Later, the Prime Minister Imran Khan himself drove the auto to take the Saudi Crown Prince to the Prime Minister House who sat on the front passenger seat beside him.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will himself drive him to the PM House where the Saudi crown prince will stay.

Pakistan is in the grip of a major debt crisis and is seeking a $12bn bailout from the International Monetary Fund, but has yet to sign the deal that comes with tough conditions.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have agreed to promote bilateral trade, investment and contacts between the two peoples and businessmen, besides encouraging the private sector to take lead in building a strong economic partnership.

He was initially due to reach Pakistan on Saturday but his arrival was delayed by a day leading to unease in the government circles in Islamabad with fear that the Saudi prince might call off the trip due to security reasons following Pulwama attack.

Besides holding talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he will also meet President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu during his two-day visit.

The two countries will also discuss ways to develop a robust follow-up mechanism to ensure effective implementation and quick progress on tangible areas of cooperation during the visit that is expected to significantly enhance bilateral ties in all spheres.

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