Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is also known as MBS is likely to meet Afghan Taliban representatives in Pakistan, according to sources. MBS will arrive in Islamabad for a state visit today. MBS is on a two-day visit to the country. Amid a growing US desire to pull out its troops from Afghanistan, Pakistan has been playing an important role in the peace talks. This will be the first visit of Mohammed as the crown prince. He had earlier visited Pakistan as defence minister at the start of the Yemen conflict.
“Saudi crown prince was likely to meet Afghan Taliban representatives in Islamabad, where the militants, fighting to restore strict Islamic rule in Afghanistan after their 2001 ouster, say they are due to meet US representatives and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan,” Reuters quoted two senior Pakistani officials as saying.
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"Though it is top secret so far, there are strong indications representatives of the Afghan Taliban will meet Prince Salman during their visit of Pakistan on February 18," one of the Pakistani officials in Islamabad said.
A senior Taliban leader in Qatar said no decision had been made on whether they would meet the crown prince. "Actually, meeting Prince Salman is not in the plan so far but we can discuss it when we are in Islamabad," said the Taliban representative to Reuters.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will sign at least eight MoUs during Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman's visit to the country, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said on Wednesday. "We hope that at least eight MoUs will be signed during the high-powered visit. Saudi Arabia is our close and trustworthy friend and the relations with the visit of Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman will be improved further,” he said. He said that back-to-back visits of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Saudi Arabia also helped to improve the bilateral relations.
Saudi had previously pledged $6bn in financial support to Pakistan, including a $3bn loan and $3bn in deferred oil payments.
While the prince himself is expected to stay at the Prime Minister House, two of the top hotels in Islamabad have been booked fully for members of his staff, while two others hotels have been partially booked. The crown prince is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and other senior civil and military leaders.
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MBS will leave Pakistan on Monday, with Malaysia, India and China next on his tour.