Imran Khan leaves for Saudi Arabia conference, says Pakistan ‘desperate’ for loans

Imran Khan leaves for Saudi Arabia conference, says Pakistan ‘desperate’ for loans

Talking to a delegation of traders who called on him here on Friday, he said PM visit to brotherly Islamic country was imperative in changing global scenario as it yielded loud and clear message to the world that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia's bilateral relations are long lasting.

In this handout photograph released by Pakistan's Press Information Department (PID) on October 23, 2018, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) meets with Saudi King Salman (R) during a meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The prime minister's attendance at the FII comes as leading policy-makers and corporate chiefs shunned the conference in response to the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Speaking at the summit, which is the brainchild of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to attract foreign investment into the kingdom, Khan said that his government is approaching the International Monetary Fund and the friendly countries to seek loans to plug the financial gap.

Pakistan would also receive another $3 billion provision as Riyadh had agreed to supply oil on deferred payments.

The deal is expected to put Pakistan in a better position to negotiate a loan from the IMF, Tariq Yousuf Khan, an economics professor in the southern port city of Karachi, told AP.

The central bank's foreign reserves dropped this month to $8.1 billion, a four-year low and barely enough to cover sovereign debt payments due through the end of the year. Yet, on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, deeply angered by the killing of Khashoggi in his country, effectively rejected the Saudi government narrative about the murder.

The former cricketer-turned-politician - took over the office of Prime Minister in August this year - had said that he wants to solve the pending differences with India through progressive dialogues.

In a recent meeting about his visit to China, Prime Minister Khan said that early implementation of the CPEC projects would help realise the true potential of the economic ties between the two countries. "But that aside, the reason I have to take this opportunity [to attend the Riyadh conference] is because we [Pakistan]... have the worst debt crisis in our history". It also gave oil on deferred payments in the 1990s, but Pakistan never repaid the amount, according to a media report quoting officials of the finance ministry.

It is Khan's second visit to Saudi Arabia in just over a month.

Pakistan is in search of United States dollars 12 billion foreign loans and aid to avoid default on worldwide debt obligations, as the country is required to return USD 11.7 billion loans to foreign countries.

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