ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday arrived in Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip since assuming the top political office of his country.
Sharif became Pakistan’s PM on April 11, after his immediate predecessor Imran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote.
He started the three-day visit to the kingdom on the invitation of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Sharif was received by Governor Faisal bin Salman after he arrived in Madinah.
The prime minister also visited the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah after meeting the Saudi official.
In a video message recorded prior to his departure, he said that he was delighted to be going to the kingdom on his first international visit after becoming Pakistan’s PM.
“This reflects the high importance Pakistan gives to its special relationship with Saudi Arabia which is historic in nature and also strategic in importance,” he continued.
The prime minister thanked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his “gracious invitation” while admiring his transformational vision for the kingdom.
He also noted that the people of Pakistan held “the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in highest esteem.”
“Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are bound by the deep-rooted and abiding fraternal ties which are built on the solid foundation of mutual trust and mutual support,” he said, adding: “We are profoundly grateful to Saudi Arabia for its consistent support to Pakistan.”
Sharif maintained Pakistan had always stood by Saudi Arabia as well and would continue to support the kingdom and its people.
“We also commend the kingdom’s leadership of the Muslim ummah and for its deep commitment to Muslim causes,” he said. “I look forward to my interaction with the Saudi leadership to review our multifaceted bilateral cooperation and to take this special relationship to unknown heights.”
The prime minister also applauded Pakistani expatriates in the kingdom, saying they made enormous economic contributions for the development of their country while describing them as “a key partner” in further fortifying the Saudi-Pakistan relationship.
The prime minister is accompanied by several members of his cabinet, including Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
“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 Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia will impart a strong impetus to deepening bilateral cooperation in diverse fields and further reinforce the growing partnership between the two countries.”
Pakistan has deep-rooted ties with Saudi Arabia, with nearly 2.5 million of its nationals living and working in the Kingdom.