Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif arrived in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, his first foreign trip since assuming office — on a three-day visit at the invitation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Madinah Governor Faisal Bin Salman Al Saud and high-level Saudi officials received the prime minister and his delegation. The prime minister was accompanied by key cabinet members, including Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, Narcotics Control Minister Shahzain Bugti, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif.
Federal minister Chaudhry Salik Hussain, Maulana Tahir Ashrafi and MNAs Mohsin Dawar and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui also joined PM Shehbaz on the official visit.
The prime minister and members of his delegation later offered prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque.
Prior to his departure, PM Shehbaz said he was embarking on the visit to “renew and reaffirm our bonds of brotherhood and friendship”.
“I will have wide-ranging discussions with [the] Saudi leadership,” he said, calling the kingdom one of Pakistan’s “greatest friends”.
The premier also issued a video message shortly before leaving in which he said he was “delighted” that his first visit since assuming office was to the kingdom.
“This reflects the high importance that Pakistan attaches to its special relationship with Saudi Arabia, which is historic in nature and strategic in significance,” he said, thanking the crown prince for the “gracious” invite.
“Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are bound by deep-rooted and abiding fraternal ties which are built on a solid foundation of mutual trust and support,” he said.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Foreign Office (FO) said the prime minister will be accompanied by a high-level delegation which will include key members of the federal cabinet.
“During the visit, the prime minister will have bilateral interaction with the Saudi leadership, with particular focus on advancing economic, trade and investment ties and creation of greater opportunities for the Pakistani workforce in Saudi Arabia. The two sides will also exchange views on a range of regional and international issues of mutual interest,” the statement said.