ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has concluded a landmark two-day visit to Pakistan where he oversaw the signing of unprecedented investment deals worth $20 billion and ordered the release of more than 2,000 Pakistanis from Saudi prisons and termed himself as Ambassador of Pakistan to Saudi Arabia.

Pakistani President Arif Alvi bestowed the country’s highest civilian honor on the Saudi crown prince, also known as MBS, at the end of official meetings.

“What we did in Pakistan is just the beginning,” MBS said in a nationally televised remarks before boarding the aircraft to leave Pakistan.  

Bin Salman is on his first tour of South Asian nations and China since becoming the Saudi leader in 2017.  The crown prince arrived in Islamabad Sunday evening where Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and senior civil and military leaders received him at an Air Force base. The Saudi leader was accompanied by a large delegation of ministers, members of the royal family and businessmen.

Khan personally drove MBS to the palatial prime minister’s complex in the capital where the two leaders held formal talks and oversaw the signing of seven major agreements between their two delegations.  

Speaking at the end of the late night ceremony, bin Salman noted his delegation signed “$20 billion” worth of memorandum of understandings.

“It’s big for phase one and definitely it’s going to grow every month, every year in bigger numbers and will be beneficial for both countries,” he said.

The agreements signed Sunday included a deal for a $10 billion oil refinery in Gwadar, where China has built and activated a major seaport.

Pakistani officials say the facility will be in place in next “3-5 years” in Gwadar and will meet the country’s needs of refined oil products currently being imported. The surplus will be exported to regional countries.

The unprecedented Saudi investment is being viewed by Prime Minister Khan’s nascent government as a major boost for Pakistan, which is facing an economic crisis and balance of payments pressure.  

Khan welcomed Saudi investment in areas of oil refining, petrochemicals, energy and other sectors.

18 Feb 2019

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