ISLAMABAD - Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, on Tuesday flatly rejected the notion his visit to Pakistan had something to do with Pervez Musharraf, stating he travelled with the purpose of expanding friendship and cooperation with the brotherly country.
“Absolutely not,” replied the foreign dignitary, when queried if he had come to Pakistan for any sort of deal about the former military ruler, who is standing a trial for high treason.
“It is Pakistan’s internal matter. We – the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – would not meddle in Pakistan’s internal affairs; we strictly follow the principle of non-intervention,” he affirmed.
Prince Saud al-Faisal, who was addressing a news conference along with Prime Minister Sharif’s advisor on Foreign Policy, Sartaj Aziz, said he carried the message of friendship and cooperation from the Kingdom.
“I had to deliver President Mamnoon Hussain a special message from the custodian of Harmain Sharifain,” added the emissary as he dismissed the impression he was on a mission about Musharraf. He said the two countries had old brotherly relation that would continue through good and bad times.
To a query about the planned drawdown of NATO troops from Afghanistan, the Saudi foreign minister said Afghanistan was passing through a tough time, so ‘this withdrawal should take place’. He however stressed terrorists should be stopped from uniting and nurturing again in Afghanistan. He said Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had agreed to facilitate the reconciliation process in Afghanistan, with the view that there was no violence after a pullout of NATO forces. “Saudi Arabia and Pakistan would try to make sure that no power vacuum is left in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of allied forces.
But, Saud al-Faisal added, it all depended on the Afghan government and Afghan people how they responded to “our sincere efforts”.
In their opening remarks, both the Saudi minister and Sartaj Aziz said Riyadh and Islamabad had agreed to further enhance their cooperation, to improve assistance for Pakistan’s economic stability, especially through more investment in Pakistan’s energy sector.
Both the countries agreed to increase cooperation in all the fields –investment, trade, energy and export of skilled and semi-skilled manpower to the Kingdom.
Appreciating Saudi economic assistance, Aziz said there was a mutual desire of intensifying economy-related interaction between the two countries. He said the two sides shared similarity in views on international and regional issues.
The Saudi minister said his country would continue providing all-out assistance for Pakistan’s economic stability. He also said the indiscriminate aims of those looking to spoil KSA-Pakistan relations should be thwarted. He said his country would enhance cooperation to Pakistan for its energy and other sectors, estimating that Pakistan was utilising only sixteen percent of its hydel power potential.
On the issue of Syria, the Saudi minister called on all the groups to sit together to find a peaceful solution of the crisis. He said President Hafiz al Asad should not be given absolute power and the Syrian crisis could be resolved through mutual consultation and cooperation by all the groups. On Israel-Palestine talks, he criticised Israel for not fulfilling commitments, and said it was continuing its repressive policies against the Palestinians instead.
Earlier, the Saudi dignitary called on President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
President Hussain urged further expansion of bilateral ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the various fields, with a particular focus on trade, investment, infrastructure, dams and power sector. The president also invited Saudi investors and businessmen to invest in Pakistan.
Prime Minister Sharif stated Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had always stood by each other in difficult times and the Pakistanis deeply valued the relations with the Kingdom. “There is a need to start a new era of strategic relationship between our two fraternal countries in order to further broaden and deepen the existing cordial bilateral relations,” the premier added.
While briefing the Saudi minister about strategy for revival of Pakistan; economy including the energy situation, Sharif said Pakistan would welcome investment by the Kingdom, especially in the energy sector.