Gen Asim Munir in Saudi Arabia to discuss mutual interests, cooperation

Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir has reached Saudi Arabia as part of an official visit to the Middle East – his first foreign tour since assuming the command of Pakistan Army in late November – to boost bilateral relations and cooperation.

The announcement was made by the Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) which said the army chief would visit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from January 4 to 10

It said Gen Asim Munir would meet senior leadership of the two countries and discuss matters of mutual interests, military-to-military cooperation and bilateral relations focusing on security-related subjects.

On Thursday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that the army chief met Defence Minister Khalid bin Salman in Riyadh where the two discussed matters of mutual interest.

The Saudi minister congratulated Gen Asim Munir on his appointment as the new army chief. “During the meeting, they emphasised the strength and durability of bilateral relations between the two fraternal countries, and discussed military and defense cooperation, and ways to support and enhance them, in addition to discussing the most important regional and international issues of common interest,” the SPA said.

Later, Saudi Defence Minister Khalid Bin Salman also shared his picture with the visiting Pakistan army chief. “We emphasised the strategic partnership between our brotherly countries, reviewed the bilateral military and defence relations, and discussed ways of strengthening our cooperation,” he tweeted.

The visit comes as Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Wednesday said Saudi Arabia and China were set to boost Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves much before the close of this month.

“Our foreign exchange reserves by end-June would be much better than you can think,” he told a press conference in Islamabad.

He said the IMF programme would be completed at all costs, China and Saudi Arabia would enhance their support, government-to-government disinvestments would be completed, and the current account deficit would be about $3 billion less than earlier projections.

Dar recalled that China and Saudi Arabia, during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visits in September,  had agreed to increase their support to Pakistan, and the Saudi finance minister later confirmed this to international news agencies.

He said the process got delayed, but Saudi Arabia would increase its support much earlier than the end of this month, while the Chinese loan rollover was also being processed.


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