Imran Khan calls on Saudi King as cash-strapped Pak govt seeks bailout from friendly nations
Prime Minister Imran Khan called on Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Tuesday as a "desperate" Pakistan government eyed a generous bailout from the cash-rich Gulf kingdom to shore up its debt-ridden economy.
Khan, visiting Saudi Arabia for a second time since assuming office in August, discussed bilateral, regional and international issues with King Salman, the official Associated Press of Pakistan news agency reported.
During the meeting, held on the sidelines of the high-profile Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh, both leaders expressed their desire to further strengthen the bilateral cooperation, the report said.
They also discussed issues of mutual interest, trade, investment and economic ties, Pakistan PM Office said in a press release.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister for Finance Asad Umar and other senior officials were also present during the meeting.
Ahead of his visit to Riyadh, Prime Minister Khan said Pakistan must continue to prioritise good relations with Saudi Arabia despite the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi because of the dire economic crisis facing the country. Khan on Tuesday attended the investment summit that has been boycotted by many western officials and companies following the killing of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Khan admitted that he could not afford not to attend the meeting.
Though shocked by Khashoggi's killing, Khan said his government needed urgent access to Saudi loans to avoid defaulting on record levels of debt within months.
"The reason I feel I have to avail myself of this opportunity [to speak to the Saudi leadership] is because in a country of 210 million people right now we have the worst debt crisis in our history, the cricketer-turned-politician was quoted as saying by the Middle East Eye, a London-based online news outlet.
"Unless we get loans from friendly countries or the IMF [the International Monetary Fund] we actually won't have in another two or three months enough foreign exchange to service our debts or to pay for our imports. So we're desperate at the moment," Khan said.
He said that Pakistan would probably need loans from both friendly governments and the IMF to meet its commitments.
Khan is now scheduled to travel to Malaysia next week and to China on November 3 to seek financial assistance from the two friendly countries.
Pakistani media on Monday reported that the country immediately needed USD 12 billion to USD 13 billion to ease the financial crisis and retire foreign debt.
"We need USD 8 billion to retire foreign debt and USD 5 billion to run the affairs of government," an unnamed minister was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
"If we get good monetary support from our friendly countries then there is a possibility that we will not require support of the IMF," he added.
Pakistan formally approached the IMF on October 12 for a bailout to tide over the economic crisis.
But some tough talking by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and the US on Pakistan's bailout plan, demanding absolute transparency on the country's debts, including those owned by China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, has upset Islamabad.
Finance Minister Umar has said the government don't want to fully rely on the IMF. He said the loan programme with the IMF is almost final, but the government will have to see that the IMF does not place any "undoable conditions" for Pakistan in return.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)
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