MBS visit will enhance Pak-Saudi bilateral relations: Asad Umar

Reuters  Phil Noble

Reuters Phil Noble

Prince bin Salman, 33, was appointed Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia in June 2017.

The unprecedented Saudi investment is being viewed by Prime Minister Khan's nascent government as a major boost for Pakistan, which is facing an economic crisis and balance of payments pressure.

The American owners purchased the Red Devils in 2003 for £790m but if they chose to accept Bin Salman's offer, the Glazers would bank a huge £2.2bn profit.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, members of prince Salman's delegation, diplomats, senior officers and Cabinet ministers attended the ceremony.

The change in bin Salman's planned visit was announced after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi warned that those behind the bombing will have to "pay a heavy price".

The two countries will also discuss ways to develop a robust follow-up mechanism to ensure effective implementation and quick progress on tangible areas of cooperation during the visit that is expected to significantly enhance bilateral ties in all spheres.

Two short stops initially scheduled for Sunday and Monday in Indonesia and Malaysia were postponed on Saturday without explanation.

It is an attempt to recast the global image of Saudi Arabia following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the country's consulate in Istanbul.

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Riyadh initially denied the murder, but now claims the journalist was killed in an unauthorized operation. The Crown Prince will be flown to the PM House from the airbase on a chopper.

Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki and Pakistan's Ambassador in Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz were also present among other officials.

He "wants to demonstrate that he is not an global pariah", said James M Dorsey, a researcher at the S Rajaratnam School of worldwide Studies in Singapore.

It comes with United chiefs spending an increasing amount of time in Saudi Arabia. "The recent visit of the prime minister and your visit has cemented the friendship between us", he said. The country supplies 20% of India's crude oil and the Indian diaspora in Saudi Arabia is 20 million-strong.

Memoranda of understanding were also inked for investments in minerals and agriculture, Khan said.

That agreement involves United "lending its business and sporting expertise to clubs, sporting authorities and individuals in Saudi Arabia".

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman does not intend to buy Manchester United, the kingdom's government said, though it has confirmed its sovereign wealth fund held sponsorship talks with English football's most successful team.

Pakistan's dilemma: Can Imran Khan afford to tilt towards Iran?

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