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FO says new dates of MBS visit being firmed up

November 18, 2022

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s (MBS) gift of a valuable watch to former prime minister Imran Khan and the expected visit by the Saudi monarch to Pakistan were raised at the Foreign Office’s weekly media conference on Thursday.

When the Spokeswoman was asked if there had been any verbal or written complaint by Riyadh on the sale of a very expensive watch that Prince Salman had gifted to former prime minister Imran Khan and the manner it was sold, she responded, “With regards to any official communication on this matter, I am not aware of that. As for the process, please note that the Cabinet Division develops guidelines and also oversees the entire process.”

To a volley of questions regarding the visit to Pakistan by Prince Salman and whether it was still on, the spokeswoman explained, “Firstly, although the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman was in works, the Foreign Office never announced the dates of the visit or cancellation of the visit. The visit is being rescheduled and new dates of the visit are being firmed up in consultation with the Saudi side. This visit holds great importance as this would be HRH’s first visit to Pakistan after assuming his office as Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The highlight of the visit would be the second meeting of the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council (SPSCC) and signing of a number of MoUs covering various areas including economic, trade, culture and investment.”

To a query on Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s comments on the visit by the Crown Prince, she said, “First, let me tell you that on the MBS visit, no, we are not negating anyone. What I said was that we did not make any formal announcement – and that does not mean that the visit was planned or not planned. The Foreign Office makes announcements of such visits when we think is the right time to announce, and these announcements are made in coordination with the government of the other country.”

To a query whether Pakistan had been successful in highlighting its case at COP27, she replied, “Yes, absolutely. We have effectively highlighted our case not only during COP27 but also during the UNGA proceedings and various bilateral interactions that took place at different levels ever since the floods hit Pakistan. We have highlighted the devastating impact of climate change on developing countries, including Pakistan. There is an international recognition that Pakistan is one of the countries worst affected by climate change. The threat of climate change is not limited to Pakistan, what we are experiencing today could happen anywhere. Hence the importance of international solidarity and cooperation to combat climate change”.

On BrahMos Missile incident, the spokeswoman said that small incidents can lead to big disasters. “Pakistan has clearly articulated its concerns. The international community realises the danger that such incidents pose to international peace and stability. Pakistan is, therefore committed to avoiding such a situation in our region or anywhere else in the world. We have, therefore, highlighted this issue at every relevant forum,” she pointed out.

Explaining how former prime minister Nawaz Sharif acquired a diplomatic passport, she said, “There are certain regulations and guidelines under which the Government of Pakistan issues diplomatic passports to individuals. There is a list of individuals who are entitled to diplomatic passports and that includes former prime ministers and former presidents.” She said Pakistan is in regular talks with Russia and the issue of acquiring oil is also being discussed. “We will share with you if there are any developments or updates,” she said.

Also discussions are underway and the Donor Conference on Pakistan most probably will take place in Geneva, she added.

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