Washington voices support for Saudi crown prince’s visit to Pakistan

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DNA

WASHINGTON: The United States Wednesday voiced its support for Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s (MBS) visit to Pakistan saying that Washington “encourages” such diplomatic engagements.

“We always support diplomatic engagement between our partners […] it’s a routine kind of diplomatic engagement and is something that we support and encourage,” US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said during a press briefing in Washington.

His remarks come a day after Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar confirmed that the Saudi monarch’s much-anticipated visit to Pakistan was “on the cards” and the final dates of his visit are expected to be received from the kingdom this month.

“InshaAllah, the visit is due [and] I believe we may receive final dates [of the visit from Saudi Arabia] anytime in May,” Dar said.

The crown prince had informed PM Shehbaz, during his visit to the Kingdom in the month of Ramadan, that he would visit Pakistan after initial meetings between Pakistan and Saudi officials, FM Dar said.

A 50-member high-level Saudi trade delegation led by Deputy Investment Minister Ibrahim Almubarak also visited Pakistan from May 5 to 6 with the aim of exploring various avenues of trade and investment to further strengthen and promote bilateral relations.

Iranian president’s visit

Meanwhile, responding to a question regarding Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi’s last month’s visit to Pakistan, the State Department spokesperson said that the US welcomes de-escalation between Tehran and Islamabad in the backdrop of cross-border strikes carried out by both countries in January earlier this year.

No position on any political party

When asked about the meeting between US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome and a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) delegation, Miller acknowledged the development and said that the envoy met opposition members including National Assembly’s Opposition Leader Omar Ayub “to discuss a broad range of issues important to the bilateral relationship”.

Responding to reports that the PTI delegation, during the meeting, voiced concerns regarding human rights violations and false cases against party founder Imran Khan, the spokesperson reiterated that Washington does not take any position on Pakistani elections.

“We take no position with respect to any particular political party, and of course, we want to see basic human rights upheld,” he said.

The PTI delegation, comprising Ayub, party Chairman Gohar Ali Khan, Asad Qaiser and Raoof Hasan, met the US envoy in the federal capital earlier this week.

Talking to journalists after his meeting with the US ambassador, Ayub said: “Matters related to military courts and cases against the PTI founder and other leaders of the party were discussed with the US envoy.”

“We have repeatedly said that these are Pakistan’s internal issues,” the PTI leader added.