Saudi defense minister arrives in Pakistan en route to China, Japan

Aug 29, 2016 (MAMOSA Report) — Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz held talks with Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad Sunday ahead of his China visit; a sign of the strategic priorities of the Kingdom.

 

PM Sharif earlier warmly received Prince Salman at the Prime Minister House.

Pak Army Chief (COAS) General Raheel Sharif, a number of federal ministers and other high officials were present on the occasion.

In the meeting, the relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, situation in the middle east and other affairs of mutual interest were discussed.

Earlier, upon his arrival at the airport, the Saudi Prince was received by Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, high ranking officials and members of Saudi Embassy in Pakistan.

Prince Salman announced in April a mega initiative called Saudi Vision 2030 to end what he called Saudi Arabia’s “addiction” to oil and transform the kingdom’s economy for a post-hydrocarbon age. Ultimately, the government wants the private sector to account for two-thirds of the economy, the Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said in Los Angeles last Thursday, according to Bloomberg.

The Saudi Defense minister is scheduled to attend Group of 20 Summit in China and visit Japan — Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil buyers in Asia. It will provide an opportunity to deepen energy ties as the world’s largest crude exporter prepares what’s expected to be the biggest IPO ever — Saudi Aramco’s.

The oil giant also intends to invest in Asian refineries to lock-in buyers in countries including China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

“The relationship with Asia is going to be absolutely critical over the coming years as demand increasingly shifts in this direction,” said Neil Beveridge, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

China is investing a whopping $46 billion in an economic corridor in Pakistan which will provide the former access to the Middle East and Africa. It will also shorten its oil shipping route by two-thirds (10,000km to 3000km), according to an estimate.

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