By Gazanfar Ali Khan
ISLAMABAD, Feb 16 — Saudi Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, arrived in Islamabad at the start of a four-nation tour, and emphasized the historic and strong relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Prince Salman said his visit at the invitation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was an affirmation of the joint desire of the two countries’ leaderships to strengthen their relations in all sectors.
“It also realizes the hopes and aspirations of people in both countries,” the crown prince said in an arrival statement, adding that the visit would be used for consultation and coordination on issues of mutual concern.
He stressed that the visit would contribute to promoting global peace and stability and boosting regional and international development. “It will also help support Islamic causes and strengthen the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.”
Prince Salman said he was extremely happy to visit Pakistan and to convey the greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Sharif.
According to a Royal decree, Prince Salman’s current Asian tour will also take him to Japan, India and Maldives.
Earlier on arrival at the Nur Khan Airbase, the crown prince was received by Sharif and senior Cabinet members, said Pakistani Ambassador Mohammed Naeem Khan, while speaking to Arab News via phone from Islamabad.
Prince Salman was given a 21-gun salute as he alighted from his special plane, said Khan, who along with Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Aziz Al-Ghadeer were present at the airport to receive the crown prince.A contingent of Pakistani armed forces presented Prince Salman a guard of honor, Khan added.
The crown prince’s entourage includes Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chief of his court, four ministers and high-ranking officials.
Asked about the crown prince’s visit to Japan, a source said it would take place from Feb. 18 to 21. During the visit, the crown prince will hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and have an audience with Emperor Akihito, he added. Crown Prince Salman will proceed to Maldives for a family holiday that will extend to three beautiful islands and beyond.
He will spend a few days in Maldives before traveling to India for an official visit from Feb. 26 to 28. His visit is expected to give a big boost to the bilateral ties. There are also chances to sign various agreements in defense, trade and investment, as well as in energy sector.
Prince Salman is expected to hold wide-ranging of talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid as well as a few other key Indian leaders.–Arab News