Saudi crown prince begins Asia tour with $20 billion Pakistan investment pledge

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman does not intend to buy Manchester United, the kingdom's government said, while confirming its sovereign wealth fund held sponsorship talks with English football's most successful team.

Saudi Arabia has yet to comment on the Pakistani announcement of a prisoner release.

Huge numbers of Pakistanis travel to the Middle East every year, with many working on construction sites or as domestic helpers.

The kingdom, he said, has always supported Pakistan in odd times and both have enjoyed long standing fraternal ties. "We can not commit to 2030 but we will reach that [figure] one day", he said.

"We are desperate at the moment", Khan told MEE.

The crown prince, widely known as "MBS", is staging the high-profile three-country visit five months after he came under intense pressure following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. They may also help Pakistan become less reliant on China, which is investing about $60 billion in the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Their objective was unclear with analysts speculating that they were deployed to protect the Saudi royal family after the purge that saw hundreds of the kingdom's richest citizens and relatives rounded up over corruption allegations and held in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh. "Pakistan is going to be a very, very important country in the future and we want to be sure we are part of that".

But Prince Mohammed's visit is at risk of being overshadowed by Pakistan's growing tensions with India.

He also lauded the Crown Prince for the development and investment files that would push the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a rapid progress and prosperity in view of its Vision 2030.

The crown prince's visit to Islamabad comes as the Taliban appeared to postpone a round of talks with the U.S. set to be held in Pakistan this week, according to the group's spokesman. Reuters cited Saudi-owned Arabiya TV on Sunday as saying agreements worth $20 billion (€17.7 billion) had been signed.

On Sunday, Pakistan Air Force jets escorted crown prince Mohammed's flight when he entered the country's airspace.

Saudi ambassador in New Delhi said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to India is a "historic opportunity" to expand collaboration in all sectors, according to Indian media outlets.

The crown prince has shown a big appetite for bringing sporting events to his country over the past couple of years, including motor sport and boxing, while Brazil and Argentina played a football worldwide in Riyadh last October.

Saudi prosecutors say the plan was masterminded by two former advisers to the crown prince. - Photo courtesy ISPR The Saudi crown prince and Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the President House in a traditional chariot.

  • Rogelio Becker