Asia - Pacific

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia ink $20B investment deals

Saudi Arabia to establish oil refinery with a cost of $10 billion in strategic southwestern Gwadar port

18.02.2019
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia ink $20B investment deals

By Islamuddin Sajid and Aamir Latif

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI, Pakistan

Saudi Arabia signed several memorandums of understanding (MoU) with Pakistan to invest $20 billion in various sectors, the Kingdom announced on Monday.

Addressing a joint news conference alongside his Pakistan's Foreign Mnister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Saudi State Minister for Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said the investment will continue in bigger amounts.

"Saudi Arabia will establish an oil refinery at a cost of $10 billion in Gwadar [a southwestern port] and plans to invest in some other areas such as minerals, agriculture, education, and health,” Al-Jubeir told the conference aired on state-run Pakistan television.

Saudi Arabia wants an “economically stable” Pakistan, he added.

Qureshi, for his part, said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia established the Supreme Coordination Council, jointly led by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Saudi crown prince for fast track decisions in key areas of bilateral cooperation.

On his maiden visit to Pakistan, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrived the host country on Sunday with a nearly 100-member high profile delegation.

"This is a historical visit for Pakistan and both countries have formed high level working groups and high level bodies for Saudi investment to the regular follow-up of the updates," Qureshi told reporters.

Riyadh has long been an economic and strategic partner of Islamabad, but avoids indulging in the lingering diplomatic row between Pakistan and India because of its huge investments in the two countries.

Last year, state oil company Saudi Aramco signed a $44-billion deal with India to build a mega refinery on India's west coast.

Last September, Pakistan formally invited Saudi Arabia to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative project, but a reported difference with Beijing could not materialize the offer.

Nevertheless, Riyadh agreed to invest in CPEC-related projects. It has already announced financing of three CPEC projects in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

The CPEC signed in 2014 seeks to connect China's strategically important northwestern Xinxiang province to the port of Gwadar through a network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport cargo, oil and gas.

Pakistan condemns recent attack on IRGC

On Wednesday, at least 27 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards were killed when a bomb-laden vehicle targeted a bus carrying IRGC personnel in the Sistan-Baluchestan province of Iran.

Qureshi rejected any involvement of Pakistan in the recent attack, saying his country respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iran.

"Yesterday, I spoke with Iran’s Foreign Minister [Mohammad Javad Zarif] and strongly condemned the attack on IRGC.”

“I assured him that Pakistan is very upset on tragic accident, and as a policy we never support such an activity, and we reject and condemn such a terror attack," Qureshi said.

He assured that Pakistan would take action if Iran had any evidence and shared it with Pakistan.

However, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Jubeir slammed Iran, saying it sponsors the terrorism in the region.

"The Iranian comments that other countries are sponsoring terrorism in Iran were very strange, Al-Jubeir said.

He accused Tehran of creating terror groups in the Middle East and providing them with arms.

"Tehran is interfering in the affairs of other countries and Saudi Arabia is also the victim of Iran-sponsored terrorism,” he said.

Al-Jubeir vowed to work with Pakistan to bring lasting peace to Afghanistan.

"We are working with Pakistan in order to reach reconciliation between the Taliban and Afghan government to move forward as Saudi Arabia wants a peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict," he said.

On the relations between Pakistan and India, strained more after the recent Kashmir attack, Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia wishes that both countries resolve the conflicts and have a peaceful relation.

The next leg of bin Salman's Asia trip will be India, Pakistan's arch-rival. Tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors have escalated after a deadly suicide bombing earlier this week on an Indian army convoy. New Delhi blames Pakistan for the attack, a charge Islamabad denies.

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