PM Khan reaches Saudi Arabia to attend investment conference

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Prime Minister Imran Khan travelled to Saudi Arabia on Monday to attend the Future Investment Initiative Conference (FIIC) in Riyadh, Radio Pakistan reported. He is paying the visit on the special invitation of King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz.

The premier is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Industry Abdul Razzak Dawood.

The conference, which will host businessmen and “representatives of hi-tech industry” from around the world, will serve as an “opportunity to interact with important business leaders who are interested in investing in Pakistan”, the statement said.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan’s participation in the first day of the conference is aimed at projecting Pakistan’s economic and investment potential and the [premier’s] vision of the country in the five years to come,” the press release read.

The prime minister’s participation in the conference signifies Pakistan’s “solidarity with the Kingdom in its efforts to become emerging hub of international business and investment”, the press statement said, even as dozens of executives, media powerhouses and business leaders opted out of the event in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

On Saturday, the organisers said that more than 120 speakers and moderators will participate. Last Monday, they had listed more than 150 speakers. The summit organisers have now removed the list of speakers from its website.

The FIIC has already been boycotted by the United Kingdom, the United States, and France.

Pakistan briefly weighed in on the Khashoggi incident earlier this month, calling on Turkey and Saudi Arabia “to jointly address the matter”.

It will be PM Khan’s second visit to Saudi Arabia in just a little over a month. The tour comes as Pakistan continues to court “friendly” nations in search of billions of dollars to shore up its deteriorating finances as it faces a balance of payment crisis and upcoming talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over a potential bailout.

PM Khan’s government has sought loans from allies such as China and Saudi Arabia, promised to recover funds stolen by corrupt officials, and embarked on a series of high-profile populist austerity measures.

But help has been in short supply and economists’ warnings have grown increasingly urgent.

The visit also comes as Pakistan’s central bank warned this week that inflation would likely double in the coming year — hitting 7.5 per cent — while the country’s growth target rate of 6.2 per cent would likely be missed.

PM Khan will also meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to discuss “matters of mutual interest”.

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