Pakistan has said Saudi Arabia has agreed to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and invest in its infrastructure and industrial projects,The Hindustan Times reports.
The agreement was reached during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s meetings with the Saudi leadership during his recent visit to Riyadh, information minister Fawad Chaudhry said. A high-level coordination committee, proposed by Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, has been formed to work out details, he added.
Saudi Arabia plans to send a high-level delegation, including the ministers of finance and energy, to Pakistan in the first week of October, Chaudhry said.
He told a news conference: “Saudi Arabia…will be our third strategic economic partner in CPEC, and Saudi Arabia is expected to bring massive direct investments to the project.”
CPEC, a $60-billion trade and transit corridor centred round Pakistan’s Gwadar port, is a key part of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative. The corridor aims to link Gwadar and China’s landlocked Xinjiang region with international markets.
Chaudhry also clarified China had been taken into confidence avout Saudi Arabia joining CPEC. He was responding to a tweet by the former interior minister, Ahsan Iqbal of PML-N, who asked whether Beijing had been taken on board before Riyadh was invited to join the venture.
Chinese assent was sought and the “expansion of CPEC is in China and Pakistan’s interest”, Chaudhry said. Chaudhry’s announcement came against the backdrop of Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Islamabad is currently looking for foreign funding to tide over a financial crisis.
Pakistan Army chief, Gen Qamar Bajwa, who also visited China recently, has said Pakistan is committed to the CPEC.
Chaudhry also said Pakistan’s strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia has been revitalised. “We have assured the Saudi leadership that we will continue to provide security to their country and provide strategic support wherever needed,” he added.