ISLAMABAD Saudi Arabia will be the third strategic partner of the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a senior Pakistani Minister announced on Thursday, soon after Prime Minister Imran Khan returned from his first foreign trip to the cash-rich kingdom.
The CPEC is the flagship project of the multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, aimed at enhancing Beijings influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.
Addressing a press conference here on Mr. Khans two-day visit to Saudi Arabia and UAE, Minister of Information Fawad Chaudhry said Pakistans main interest lies in cooperation with Saudi Arabia on matters of trade and security.
Pakistan has invited Riyadh to join the CPEC as the third strategic partner, The News quoted him as saying.
Saudis Finance and Energy Ministers will visit Pakistan in the first week of October, Mr. Chaudhry said.
He said the projects that Saudi Arabia would be investing in in the CPEC will be smoothed out during the Saudi delegations visit.
China has rejected accusations that its financial backing for the CPEC was a debt trap that could compromise cash-strapped Pakistans sovereignty.
The CPEC is the fastest-moving and flagship project of President Xis global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The CPEC aims to construct and upgrade the transportation network, energy projects, a deep-water port at Gwadar and special economic zones to eventually support Pakistans industrial development as a manufacturing hub by 2030.
. Chaudhry said that Prime Minister Khan has assured Riyadh that Pakistan will stand with Saudi Arabia.