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Pakistan Army Chief visits Saudi Arabia, meets counterpart, vice defense minister

Pakistan Army Chief visits Saudi Arabia, meets counterpart, vice defense minister

ISI Chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed also accompanied Gen. Bajwa on the official visit

Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in Saudi Arabia accompanied by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed. The visit is seen as an attempt to smooth the diplomatic relations between the two historically close nations.

The Chief of Army Staff was received by the Saudi Chief of General Staff Major General Fayyad bin Hammad Al-Ruwaili at the airport. The two later discussed military cooperation and other matters of mutual interest. “During their meeting, they discussed prospects of military cooperation and ways to boost it as well as other topics of common interest,” a statement from the Saudi ministry of defense read.

The COAS also met the Saudi Vice Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz. The two sides discussed bilateral ties and regional issues.

Recent issues

The two countries have recently had some strain in their relations. Pakistan recently paid Saudi Arabia $1 billion as a loan return. This was unexpected since the credit facility was extended for a year a few months earlier. Similarly, there have been issues with the deferred payment facility for oil worth $3.2 billion.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also expressed his annoyance over the delay of calling an OIC Summit over the Kashmir problem and said that if Saudi Arabia would not do it, Pakistan will go to likeminded Muslin countries directly.   

“If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris,” Qureshi said in an interview. “We have our own sensitivities. You have to realize this. Gulf countries should understand this.”

Saudi Arabia strengthened their ties with India recently and some experts believe that the Arab nation wants Pakistan to take a softer line over Kashmir.

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