Saudi Arabia Signs Deals Worth $20 Billion With Pakistan
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has signed agreements worth $20 billion with Pakistan at the start of an Asian tour widely seen as an attempt to bolster ties and improve the kingdom's image after a troubling year.
The two-day visit to Pakistan which began Sunday is the first by bin Salman, commonly known by his initials MBS, since he became crown prince. His tour will also take him to India and China this week,
The crown prince has struggled to rehabilitate his international reputation following the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year. The crown prince has denied any connection to the killing.
Bin Salman arrived in Pakistan Sunday with an elaborate entourage that included several hundred luxury cars, two C-130 planes and special containers that shipped the prince's belongings ahead of the visit.
The slew of deals and memorandums of understanding (MoU) signed between the two nations during the visit include a $10 billion agreement on establishing an oil refinery in the southwestern coastal city of Gwadar and a $4 billion agreement on developing alternative energy sources.
The deals are expected to provide a much-needed shot in the arm for Pakistan's ailing economy. The country has historically low foreign exchange reserves and is currently in talks with the IMF for what would be its 13th economic bailout since the 1980's.