Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran KHAN. Source of the Photo:

On May 8, 2021, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan signed several agreements to improve ties, after months of strained relations between the close allies over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Saudi Arabia was the first foreign country Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran KHAN visited after his 2018 election. He is accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood QURESHI and other members of the Cabinet.

He was greeted by Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin SALMAN at the airport before holding talks with Saudi officials at Jeddah’s Al-Salam Palace.

The country’s state news agency added officials from both countries signed two agreements in the western city of Jeddah addressing the treatment of criminals, and crime.

They also agreed on two memorandums of understanding around combating drug trafficking; as well as financing energy, infrastructure, transportation, water, and communications projects.

A Saudi statement said: “They affirmed the depth of relations between the two brotherly countries and underscored the importance of expanding and intensifying aspects of bilateral cooperation and coordination”.

In August 2021, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood QURESHI called on the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to convene a high-level meeting on Kashmir.

Saudi Arabia supported Pakistan with billions of dollars in aid and loans in recent years, observers say it is also keen not to upset India, an important business partner and importer of Saudi oil.

A diplomatic source told AFP news agency in September 2021 that the Kingdom recalled $1bn of a $3bn loan to cash-strapped Pakistan, and an expired multi-billion-dollar oil credit facility to Islamabad has not been renewed.

Saudi Arabia is home to more than 2 million Pakistanis and remains the largest source of remittances to Pakistan.

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