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Saudi minister meets PM Imran, discusses trade matters

RIYADH: Saudi Minister for Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid A. Al-Falih called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and discussed matters related to bilateral trade and investment between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Head of Saudi Public Investment Fund Yasir Al-Rumayyan and Adviser Saudi Cabinet’s General Secretariat Ahmed Al-Khatib also joined the meeting, held at the King Faisal Palace in Jeddah.

Finance Minister Asad Umar, Adviser for Commerce and Industry Abdur Razak Dawood, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia Vice Admiral (retd) Khan Hasham bin Saddique were present.

Mr Khan arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday and prayed at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, where the doors to the Khana-e-Kaaba were opened in a sign of respect for the visiting dignitaries.

He then flew to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s port city on the Red Sea, and will later dine with the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at a state dinner, before travelling to Abu Dhabi.

Mr Khan bemoaned Pakistan’s financial situation in his first formal address as prime minister in August, saying that “never in Pakistan’s history have we faced such difficult economic circumstances”. The country’s fiscal deficit ballooned to 6.6 per cent of gross domestic product in the financial year to 30 June.

He announced a series of austerity measures and raised taxes for middle and higher earners, but warned he would “have to take more debt to repay our obligations” to international lenders.

Last month, Finance Minister Asad Umar said an IMF rescue was a fallback option and that the government was exploring other avenues for assistance. Mr Umar is accompanying Mr Khan on the Saudi visit.

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