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Saudi Arabia eager to become part of CPEC: former envoy

Saudi Arabia eager to become part of CPEC: former envoy

Saudi Arabia eager to become part of CPEC: former envoy

Saudi Arabia eager to become part of CPEC: former envoy

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ISLAMABAD: Former ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and Rasanah Board Member Dr Ali Awadh Asseri termed Gwadar a connecting point between Central Asia and the Middle East and said that Saudi Arabia is eager to become part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) or any other regional development arm, provided there is a complete roadmap of cooperation, according to a statement.

Delivering a lecture at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) on February 17, he declared the bilateral relationship with Saudi Arabia as “unique, progressive and durable”.

Irrespective of the political changes in Pakistan, the people of the country are dear and near to Saudi Arabia and the relationship spans economic, political, cultural and strategic affairs, he added.

He highlighted the strides both countries have made in geopolitical coordination and mentioned the special understanding that they enjoy at the regional and international levels.

Asseri talked at length about the economic ties and said that Riyadh has been forthcoming in assisting Pakistan in bailing it out whenever it was in dire straits and made a mention of loan facilities, as well as oil, on deferred payments.

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The former ambassador highlighted how Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s Vision 2030 is changing Saudi Arabia and the region and what positive impact it has had on the social milieu of the kingdom, as it transforms towards an open society.

He stressed on the need to keep the relationship on the people-centric prism and urged the government to produce skilled manpower so that the volume of remittances can be enhanced considerably.

He expressed the hope that Pakistan can play a greater role in regional security and observed that Kashmir and Palestine, as well as Islamophobia, are the issues that cement them in commonality.

Dr Asseri, known as the friend of Pakistan, talked about the two million plus Pakistani diaspora in Saudi Arabia and remarked that skilled and educated strata have more avenues to flourish in the kingdom.

The investment and trade are two fora that need to be tapped, he said and called upon the chambers of commerce and industries’ to come up with the proper homework to harness more productive cooperation.

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Likewise, the government should also address the legal security vistas of the investors so that they are sure of their returns.

The former envoy especially mentioned the vibrancy of Sialkot in sports and surgical products and the opportunities of industrial ventures in Karachi and Faisalabad.

To a question, he said, there is no animosity or hard feeling between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. It is quite unfortunate that the volume of trade between the two countries is less than $3 billion. Saudi Arabia is interested in bringing an investment of $20 billion in the energy sector, solar panels and other ventures.

He called for a free trade agreement between the two countries and emphasised to diversify ties to include joint investments in the Pakistani industrial and commercial ventures and cited an interesting example of importing Pakistan-made surgical instruments and other products on much higher costs through the western countries.

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