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Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister to visit Islamabad on Thursday

The Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan is expected to pay a daylong visit to Islamabad on Thursday by Riyadh to address the growing criticism after PM Imran Khan pulled out of  Kuala Lumpur summit, media reports said on Wednesday.

PM Imran Khan had accepted Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s invitation to the summit which was held from Dec 18 to 21 but pulled out of it after visiting KSA.

A Turkish newspaper later quoted President Recep Tayyib Erdogan as saying that Pakistan was under Saudi pressure to stay away from the summit in which leaders of Malaysia, Turkey, Iran, and Qatar participated.

Reports according to the Turkish newspaper said Erdogan had ‘unveiled’ that Saudi Arabia threatened Pakistan to withdraw its financial assistance as well as to expel millions of its workers if it attended the gathering of Muslim leaders in the Malaysian capital.

Saudi Arabia, however, dismissed the claim as ‘baseless’ and insisted that its relationship with Pakistan is beyond the realm of threats.

A statement in this regard has been issued by the Saudi Embassy clarifying that Riyadh neither threatened nor stopped Islamabad from attending the Malaysian summit.

Sources in the Foreign Office, nevertheless, conceded that Pakistan’s decision to stay away from the summit stemmed from the Saudi reservations. They said the PM had traveled to Riyadh to assure Saudi Arabia that Pakistan’s participation in the summit would not undermine Saudi interests.

However, the Saudis were not convinced as they viewed the gathering of Muslim world leaders as an attempt to create a new Islamic bloc.  Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had dismissed the assertions, insisting that the Kaula Lumpur summit had nothing to do with creating a new bloc in the Muslim world.


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