ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia will strengthen relations between the two countries with many agreements expected to be signed during the trip, Saudi Ambassador Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki said on Saturday.
According to Arab News that Khan is officially scheduled to visit Riyadh on the invitation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman early next month. A source familiar with the matter told Arab News this week that the three-day trip will start on May 7.
“This visit will further strengthen relations between both countries in all fields, whether it cultural, political, religious, defense or trade,” Al-Malki told Arab News. “During this visit, there will be many memoranda of understanding that will definitely enhance the bilateral relations.”
When the crown prince visited Pakistan in February 2019, the two countries signed agreements for $20 billion investment projects. Al-Malki said that while work on them “has already begun,” a planned preferential trade agreement would also lead to broader economic cooperation.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have pledged to strengthen their economic relationship with a preferential trade agreement that is in line with the vision 2030 of the Crown Prince. It will open broader, comprehensive and flexible horizons for economic cooperation between the two countries to achieve mutual interests, which will lead both countries to development and prosperity,” the envoy said.
Khan’s entourage during the upcoming visit will reportedly comprise several members of his cabinet, including the PM’s adviser on climate change, Malik Amin Aslam, as more environmental cooperation is also planned in line with Saudi Arabia’s new green initiatives, which were announced by the crown prince last month.
The Green Saudi and Green Middle East initiatives aim to reduce carbon emissions in the region by 60 percent and plant billions of trees in the world’s biggest afforestation project.
“Under the Green Middle East Initiative, the kingdom seeks to plant an additional 40 billion trees,” Al-Malki said, adding that for the afforestation project “Pakistan is a key partner for its pioneering experiences in this field.”
“The Pakistani Prime Minister’s support has come for these initiatives,” Al-Malki said, adding that it will be “beneficial” for Saudi Arabia.
PM Khan last month welcomed the announcement of Saudi environmental programs, saying they complimented Pakistan’s own initiatives to battle climate change such as the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami program — an ambitious five-year tree-planting project launched in 2018, with the aim of countering rising temperatures, flooding, droughts and other extreme weather in the country that scientists link to climate change.