Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud said on Tuesday that the kingdom is looking to expand the dimensions of its relationship with Pakistan through the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council (SP-SCC).
Prince Faisal was speaking at a press conference alongside Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad. The Saudi Arabian foreign minister arrived in the capital for a day-long visit.
The SP-SCC, which is co-chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Prime Minister Imran Khan, was set up after the two leaders signed an agreement in May while the latter was on a three-day official visit to Saudi Arabia.
Referring to the visit, the Saudi foreign minister said on Tuesday that he was in Pakistan “to follow up on the important visit of Prime Minister [Imran Khan] to Saudi Arabia in May, during which we established the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council”.
Prince Faisal expressed the hope that the council would turn out to be a “milestone in taking the relationship between [Saudi Arabia and Pakistan] to new levels, institutionalising it and exploring all the opportunities that it has to offer”.
While Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had worked in multiple areas in the past as well, the prince believed that the SP-SCC would be a “more effective tool” to enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
The Saudi foreign minister stressed the importance of enhancing economic ties, saying that it had been the main focus of his discussion with Qureshi prior to the press conference.
“We focused very much on the economic side of the relationship and on opportunities to expand it beyond the traditional areas of investment.”
He also stressed expanding bilateral coordination in the areas of technology and the environment.
The foreign minister added that security and stability were the key to economic prosperity and therefore, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had agreed to work together on ensuring stability in each others’ regions.
“We have agreed to work [together] on regional issues, whether it’s Kashmir, Palestine or Yemen. We will work together to ensure stability in both our regions.”
Prince Faisal said “we have supported each other in many areas and will continue to do so.”
The Saudi government valued the contribution of the Pakistani community to the economy of his country and was working to expand opportunities for it in the kingdom.
Foreign Minister Qureshi termed the ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia “historic”, saying that both the countries were “very comfortable” with the way things were moving on the bilateral front.
“What we are focused now on is improving our economic linkages through the enhancement of bilateral trade and promotion of investments,” he said, adding that both the countries aimed to achieve this through the establishment and activation of a special body — the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Consultative Council.
Qureshi said he discussed with his Saudi counterpart how the body would be structured and what should be their work plan for the purpose.
“We have [also] decided that there will be a focal person at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here and in Saudi Arabia to oversee the progress on the bilateral front,” he said, adding that it would let them look at the bilateral relations in an “institutionalised way”.
The foreign minister identified Vision 2030, a national transformation plan introduced by the Saudi government, as an area in which Pakistan could contribute.
“Our skilled and semi-skilled professionals can make [significant] contributions to Vision 2030,” he said.
In this connection, he also highlighted the importance of building cultural ties through cultural diplomacy.
He said that he and the Saudi foreign minister had also discussed opportunities for Saudi investors to invest in special economic zones under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Qureshi thanked Prince Faisal and the Saudi government for its “unwavering support” to Pakistan on matters relating to the Financial Action Task Force and on the issue of occupied Kashmir.
“They [Saudi Arabia] have shown clarity and consistency in supporting Pakistan [on the Kashmir issue].”
Moreover, he said, he had a discussion on the situation in Afghanistan with Prince Faisal and their approach on the matter was the same.