ISLAMABAD - The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud who is also the deputy prime minister and holds the portfolio of minister for defence, is scheduled to visit Pakistan from February 15 to 17 on the invitation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The crown prince will be leading a high level delegation including Minister of Economy and Planning Dr Mohammed bin Sulaiman Al-Jasser, Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al Rabiah and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Nizar Bin Obaid Madani and other important businessmen.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Ms Tasnim Aslam while responding to queries in her weekly press briefing said traditionally, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have had very good and regular interactions and leaders of both countries also had frequent visits.
“And when the leaders meet, they, of course, review the regional situation. Afghanistan will be discussed because the gulf countries are also interested in Afghan stability,” she said.
She said a number of proposals were under consideration by the two countries to further boost their bilateral relations and probably, they will be finalised over the next two or three days.
She said apart from trade and economic issues, the defence cooperation would figure in the talks between the two countries. She rejected the notion that there was any specific reference to stationing of Pakistani troops in Saudi Arabia.
"You know that we have been providing training to the Saudi Armed Forces. We would also be interested in sale of arms to Saudi Arabia like JF-17 Thunder and Mushshaq aircraft and other equipment. I think that's about it," she added.
She also rejected and termed it a baseless whispering campaign by the western media that Saudi Arabia wanted nuclear cooperation with Pakistan. "Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are not discussing nuclear cooperation," she said.
The FO spokesperson said Pakistan is engaged with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) at various levels to formalize dialogue and cooperation between Islamabad and Brussels beyond 2014.
"We have ongoing engagement, we have regular dialogue at various levels, and there are also some mechanisms that are under consideration on how to formalize our dialogue and cooperation," she further said. On trilateral summit of Pakistan-Afghanistan-Turkey being held in Ankara the spokesperson said it would help in maintaining peace and stability in Afghanistan and region.
She said that Pakistan always supported peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. She said peace in Afghanistan would also have good impact on Pakistan. She said Pakistan-Afghanistan-Turkey Trilateral Summit is being organized at a time when transition is going to take place in Afghanistan.
The spokesperson said the trilateral summit is also important, as Presidential elections will be held in Afghanistan this year and withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan will also take place.
The spokesperson said the forum provides good opportunity to the member countries to resolve and discuss different issues. She also said that Pakistan wants that Afghanistan's soil should not be used against Pakistan.
Replying to a question, the spokesperson rejected the baseless propaganda against Pakistan's nuclear assets and installations saying that Pakistan has very strong, robust and effective security system. She said that Pakistan would participate in the National Security Summit being held in Hague next month.
She said tat Pakistan has been dealing with nuclear technology for the last 40 years both the civil nuclear programme meant for energy and nuclear weapon programme, which is declared and known to the world.
Answering another Question, the spokesperson said that authorities on both side of Kashmir have decided to resume trade across Line of Control for the benefit of Kashmiri people living there.
She said that an important meeting of Working Group for across LoC trade would meet in New Delhi in this month to further streamline LoC trade. "We hope that during this meeting, we will be able to work out and agree on some arrangements to improve the systems on the line of control (LoC) and monitoring of the cargo that goes both ways so that any incident of this nature does not happen in future", she added.
To a question about the cancellation of the visit of Indian Commerce Minister to Pakistan, the spokesperson said that it was perhaps in the backdrop of clarification Pakistan had sought from India about certain timelines.
"There were Pakistan's concerns that were presented when the two Commerce Ministers met and there were Indian concerns. They agreed on a number of measures and timelines to achieve those. Since the meeting was held in India, we expected the Indian side to provide the agreed points to us that we discussed. But when the communication arrived, it somehow skipped some parts that were of interest to Pakistan. We have sought a clarification that is where the matters are at the moment. I think, visit may have been cancelled because we still did not have the clarity on how to proceed forward", she explained.
Answering a question about Pakistani student Shahzeb hospitalised in America, she said his family has to decide either his treatment has to be continued in USA or Pakistan.
She said Foreign office, Pakistan's embassy and US State Department have ensured full help and cooperation to Shahzeb and his family members.
Replying to a question, the spokesperson said due change in the work visa policy by Saudi Government, 900,000 Pakistanis were regularised.
She said about 4000 Pakistanis had been arrested who did not approach Pakistan embassy.
She said foreign office, Pakistan's embassy and Consulate in Saudi Arabia are making sincere efforts for the release of these Pakistanis.
She said Pakistan's High Commission in Malaysia is also in touch with those Pakistanis who have been detained there for visa violations.