Saudi defence minister to visit Islamabad tomorrow

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince and defence minister, Mohammed bin Salman, is arriving in Islamabad on Sunday to discuss Pakistan’s cooperation in the 34-nation coalition of Islamic countries the Kingdom has recently formed to ostensibly fight terrorism and extremism.

His visit comes just four days after Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir travelled to Islamabad and held wide ranging talks with Pakistan’s civil and military leaders, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief General Raheel Sharif.

A government official told The Express Tribune that the Saudi defence minister is coming to discuss the ‘finer details’ of the coalition. He is expected to meet his Pakistani counterpart along with the army chief and the prime minister.

“We welcome the Saudi initiative in line with our policy to support all regional and international efforts to counter terrorism and extremism,” the official added.

The official made it clear that Pakistan will not become part of any action that will be against any specific country. “We support a political solution to the Syrian problem without interference from the outside,” the official maintained.

Asked whether Pakistan would spare troops for the coalition, the official said details were being worked out. However, Pakistan’s role would remain restricted to intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism training and other activities in the coalition, the official said.

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