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February 17, 2014

Pak-Saudi defence cooperation agreed

 
February 17, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz held important discussions at the Punjab House on Sunday evening where the former came to attend the banquet hosted by Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Abdul Aziz Ibrahim Saleh Al-Ghadeer.
The two leaders decided to further enhance their existing cooperation in various fields and it will be shaped in the bilateral talks to take place today(Monday). In the meanwhile Saudi Crown Prince and Defence Minister Salman bin Abdul Aziz had meeting with Minister for Defence Khawaja Mohammad Asif at the Punjab House and discussed cooperation in the field of defence and training of military personnel.
During the meeting, Minister for Defence Khawaja Mohammad Asif warmly greeted the distinguished guest and said that the visit is highly significant, adding, “We thank Excellency for undertaking this most important visit at the most important time”. Both the sides discussed matters of mutual cooperation in the field of defence. They showed keen interest in extending cooperation in the field of defence and matters of defence trainings, and cooperation in the field of education was broadly discussed. The two sides also agreed to exchange of military personnel for training and joint venture in defence production.
Saudi Arabia greatly appreciated the capacity of Pakistan defence industry and cooperation in the field of defence production also came under discussion. Khawaja Asif reiterated that Saudi Arabia held great importance for all Muslims across the world and said it is the first visit of Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz after assuming the charge of defence minister. He expressed hope that the visit would further enhance ties and give boost to relations.
The minister reiterated that both the countries could be self sufficient in defence equipment production besides exporting them to international market. Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq also called on Saudi Crown Prince and

Defence Minister Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud and exchanged views on matters of mutual interest and ways of strengthening relations. Referring to the immemorial brotherly ties with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the Speaker said that both the countries are intertwined in religious and cultural bonds which have gained strength due to the commitment of ruling hierarchies on both sides.
He said that Pakistan greatly values Saudi support during natural calamities and crisis. The Speaker expressed his desire to further intensify cooperation between the two sides.The Minister of State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Foreign Affairs Dr Nizar Bin Obaid Madani called on the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi at the Foreign Office. They discussed bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest. The meeting was held in a very cordial and friendly atmosphere.
The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister while welcoming the Saudi Minister of State stated that the Government of Pakistan accorded high priority to its relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He underscored that prime minister of Pakistan was desirous of taking the bilateral relations to new heights. Referring to the existing close and fraternal relations, the special assistant remarked that the destinies of the two countries were interlinked and the relations were marked by mutual trust and understanding.
He emphasised the need to initiate a new era of strategic relationship between the two brotherly countries and also to further enhance bilateral ties in diverse areas, particularly in economic, trade and investment sectors, to impart greater substance to the existing cordial relations.
The Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs stated that the fact that the Crown Prince had chosen Pakistan as the first country for his Asian visit is symbolic of the importance Saudi Arabia attached to its relations with Pakistan. Recalling the recent high level visits to Pakistan by senior members of the Saudi leadership, including foreign minister, deputy defence minister and chairman Saudi Tourism and Antiquities, Dr Madani expressed satisfaction that the relations were moving in the “right direction”.
He emphasised that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were linked with bonds of brotherhood rooted in common culture and faith of Islam. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was desirous of enhancing ties with Pakistan in diverse areas and informed that during the visit, the Crown Prince would be exchanging views with the Pakistani leadership on the whole range of bilateral and international issues of mutual interest. The two countries shared a common vision and challenges which needed to be addressed together.
The diplomatic sources have pointed out that Saudi Crown Prince and defence minister will discuss the political situation prevailing in South Asia with the Indian leaders and likely to help for improvement of ties between Pakistan and India when he will be paying an official visit to India towards the end of this month.
The Crown Prince who had informal chat with host Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Sunday evening at the banquet hosted by Saudi ambassador to Pakistan Dr Abdul Aziz Ibrahim Saleh Al-Ghadeer at picturesque Punjab House would be having formal talks with the prime minister today (Monday). He will be briefed about the regional situation including the developments pertaining to Afghanistan and relations with India with particular reference to Kashmir situation besides other subjects. Saudi Arabia is keen for stability of the region and deeply interested in normalization of ties between Pakistan and India. The Crown Prince would discuss the subject here and in New Delhi with the host leadership. Highly placed diplomatic sources told The News Sunday evening that rapidly growing ties between Saudi Kingdom and India would become instrumental for an effective role by Riyadh to bridge differences between Islamabad and New Delhi. Saudi Arabia believes that strained ties between Pakistan and India could be a hurdle for its expanding relationship with both the neighbouring countries.
Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz will undertake his second visit to India after becoming the Crown Prince in June 2012. India and Saudi Arabia are also expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on defence, which envisages exchange of defence-related information, and training and cooperation in areas varying from hydrocarbons and security to its logistics. When Defence Minister A.K Antony visited Saudi Arabia in 2012, it was agreed by both sides to step up cooperation in the defence field. A joint panel was then constituted to prepare a draft pact. The two countries are also eager to work together in curbing money laundering and drug trafficking. Indo-Saudi bilateral trade exceeded $43.19 billion in 2012-13. There are more than 2.5 million Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia who contribute immensely to the socio-economic development of the oil-rich kingdom.
INP adds: The Crown Prince and Defence Minister Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud has said that Saudi Arabia will extend all-out support to Pakistan in diverse fields and would always stand by its Pakistani brethren whenever needed.The Crown Prince was talking to the Speaker of the National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq who called on the visiting dignitary here on Sunday.
The Crown Prince termed relations between the two countries as historic and unique. He said that Pakistan is the closest friend and ally to the Kingdom. He said that existing relations would be strengthened in days to come and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan would be further diversified for mutual benefit of both the nations. He said that Saudi Arabia strongly desires to see a prosperous, stable and economically vibrant Pakistan.

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