Pakistan, Saudi Arabia to reset strained ties

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: May 08, 2021, 06:09 PM IST

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea city of Jeddah. Photograph:(AFP)

Story highlights

Last year, Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations were strained because of policy disagreements on Kashmir issue

Saudi Arabia and its long-standing ally Pakistan on Saturday signed several agreements on Saturday. Both countries have vowed to reser ties which have been strained over policy disagreements on Kashmir issue.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was given a warm welcome by Saudi official in Jeddah. This is Khan's seventh Saudi visit after he took over as prime minister of the country.

Imran Khan was greeted by Saudi Arabia's de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the airport, before holding talks with Saudi officials at Jeddah's Al-Salam Palace.

"They affirmed the depth of relations between the two brotherly countries and underscored the importance of expanding and intensifying aspects of bilateral cooperation and coordination," a Saudi statement said.

Although the kingdom was the first foreign country Khan visited after taking office, Riyadh appeared frustrated with Islamabad last year. 

Last year, Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations were strained.

In a sharply worded statement in August, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called on the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to convene a high-level meeting on Kashmir. 

The call raised eyebrows in Riyadh, where it was widely seen as a warning that Pakistan was preparing to call for a session outside OIC auspices. 

Saudi Arabia prides itself on its role as guardian of Islam's holiest sites and is particularly sensitive about any move that might undermine its leadership of the 57-member pan-Islamic body. 

And while the wealthy nation has supported Pakistan with billions of dollars in aid and loans in recent years, observers say the kingdom is also keen not to upset India, a key business partner and importer of Saudi oil.

The kingdom recalled $1 billion of a $3 billion loan to cash-strapped Pakistan, and an expired multi-billion-dollar oil credit facility to Islamabad has not been renewed, a diplomatic source told AFP in September. 

Prior to that, Pakistan rebuffed calls to send ground troops to support the troubled Saudi-led military campaign against Yemen's Huthi rebels. 

(With inputs from agencies)