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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Imran Khan heads to UAE and Saudi Arabia for first foreign trip as Pakistan prime minister

The state visit has been arranged on the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman

Imran Khan will visit Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Tehreek-e-Insaf via AP
Imran Khan will visit Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Tehreek-e-Insaf via AP

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will embark on his first foreign trip since coming into power on Tuesday.

The former cricket great will arrive in Riyadh on Tuesday for a two-day Saudi Arabia visit. He will stop off in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday evening.

"Prime Minister along with delegation will arrive in Abu Dhabi in the evening on 19 September," a Pakistan foreign ministry statement said.

The two-day trip to Saudi Arabia coincides a month after Mr Khan assumed office, with Pakistan facing a balance-of-payments crisis and speculation that the new premier could seek loans worth billions of dollars from allies.

The state visit has been arranged on the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Pakistan's foreign ministry said in a statement.

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"The Prime Minister will meet Saudi leadership and will discuss regional and international issues," a senior Pakistan government official said.

Mr Khan and his cabinet face challenges including a faltering economy, militant extremism, water shortages and a rapidly growing population.

The most pressing is a looming balance-of-payments crisis, with analysts predicting Pakistan will have to go to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.

There has been recent speculation in local media that Pakistan is eyeing Saudi Arabia and China to provide loans worth billion of dollars in order for Islamabad to avoid going back to IMF.

Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has already arrived in Beijing on a three-day official visit, the military said on Sunday.

"During the visit COAS [Bajwa] will interact with various Chinese leaders including his counterpart," it said.