Ties with Saudi Arabia ‘as old as Pakistan’: PM

:: Relations with Saudi Arabia are “as old as Pakistan is,” Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told News Agency.

As such, it was “natural” for him to make his first visit after assuming office on Aug. 1 to the Kingdom, he said, describing Saudi Arabia as “our oldest friend.”

Abbasi said that during his visit to Riyadh on Aug. 23, he told Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that in Pakistan “we have a lot of differences on every issue,” but “we only agree on only one thing: Saudi Arabia.”

Abbasi described the visit as “very cordial,” adding that they discussed Crown Prince Mohammed’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

The prime minister said Saudi Arabia also feels a deep and strong bond with Pakistan. He said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told him that a quarter of last year’s Umrah visitors to the Kingdom were from Pakistan. “They had 8 million Umrah visitors and 2 million came from Pakistan. So, 25 percent of the Umrah visitors were from Pakistan,” he said.

“There are more than 2.5 million Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia,” said Abbasi. “I also worked there, and visited on and off for almost six years in the mid-1980s.”

The Kingdom “is like another home to us,” he added.

“Every household you find here (in Pakistan) has some connection to Saudi Arabia. People have visited for Hajj or Umrah, or they have relatives working there or doing business there.”

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