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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Pakistan seeks UAE assistance as delegation arrives 

Prime minister Imran Khan is seeking assistance from the UAE to fix a looming economic crisis.

Dr Sultan bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, meets with Pakistan's prime minister Imran Khan in Islamabad. WAM
Dr Sultan bin Ahmad Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, meets with Pakistan's prime minister Imran Khan in Islamabad. WAM

A high-level UAE delegation, headed by Minister of State and head of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, visited Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan over the weekend as the two countries discuss a major bailout package to Islamabad.

The meeting comes days after Mr Khan agreed a major $6bn lifeline from Saudi Arabia after travelling to the kingdom to attend the Future Investment Forum last week. Some $3bn will be a direct cash injection to the Pakistani Central Bank to shore up foreign currency reserves and the remaining $3bn will be deferred payment for oil and gas.

"Khan is close to getting the similar package from the UAE government", a top financial official in Islamabad told The National. The information could not be confirmed with UAE officials.

The delegation is officially following up on discussions about deepening ties and investments in the country.

Pakistan is struggling with a ballooning current account deficit, a sluggish economy, falling currency value and massive public debt. It is seeking its 13th bailout from the International Monetary Fund but Mr Khan has expressed his desire to turn to friends in the Gulf and China first. Pakistan’s finance ministry has said it still plans to seek the IMF assistance after receiving the lifeline from Riyadh.

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Pakistan’s prime minister welcomed the arrival of Dr Sultan and the delegation who are following up on meetings Mr Khan had with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in September during a visit to Abu Dhabi. The pair had agreed to build on trade, investment and economic.

"The arrival of high members of the delegation headed by [Dr Saltan] Al Jaber, showed the UAE’s commitment to strengthening the historic relations with Pakistan", Mr Khan said after the meeting. Dr Saltan is leading a 15-member delegation including the government and private sector officials with the aim of discussing investment opportunities in the key sectors within Pakistan.

"A high-level UAE delegation comprising CEOs/senior officials of major companies, including Mubadala Petroleum, ADIA (Sovereign Wealth Funds), Etisalat, DP World, Dubai Investment Authority, Emaar Company, Al Dahra Agriculture and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development called on the Foreign Minister today,” Pakistan Foreign Office said in a statement.

"The UAE is keen to set up a state-of-the-art LNG [liquid natural gas] terminal in Pakistan and we have discussed it during the meeting. The Emirati delegation has expressed interest in setting up an LNG terminal in Pakistan", Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said during a press conference.

"We consider Pakistan to be our key partner and we work closely to further develop these ties," Dr Saltan said. "The UAE is determined to focus on more cooperation with Islamabad in several fields including economic, investment, business development and joint ventures domains."

He thanked the 1.6 million Pakistani nations in the Emirates who are “effectively contributing in building the national economy of UAE” as well as a $200 million assistance programme for Islamabad that is engaged in 85 development projects in the southwestern province of Baluchistan and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.