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Abu Dhabi Crown Prince visits Pakistan to boost bilateral ties

Islamabad: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Thursday arrived here on a day-long visit, amidst criticism of the UAE for siding with Saudi Arabia to put pressure on Pakistan to skip a key conference of Muslim nations in Malaysia.

Prime Minister Imran Khan received the Crown Prince at the Nur Khan Airbase and personally drove him from the airport. It was for the second time that Khan drove his vehicle as he did in January last year when the prince visited.

The visit comes in the wake of the controversy created due to Pakistan skipping the Kuala Lumpur summit to apparently appease Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Prime Minister Khan had confirmed Pakistan's participation in the summit hosted by Malaysia, but skipped the event at the eleventh hour due to pressure exerted by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - key financial backers of the cash-stripped country.

The Summit from December 19-21 was seen by Saudis as an attempt to create a new bloc in the Muslim world that could become an alternative to the dysfunctional Organisation of Islamic Cooperation led by the Gulf Kingdom.

The Foreign Office said that the prince will have a one-on-one meeting with the prime minister. This will be followed by a luncheon hosted by Khan.

"The exchange of views between the two leaders will cover bilateral matters and regional and international issues of common interest," the FO said.

Frequent exchange of high-level visits between Pakistan and the UAE is reflective of the importance that the two countries attach to their fraternal ties, it said.

The visit illustrates the strength and substance of the Pakistan-UAE special relationship, based on commonalities of faith, cultural affinities, and a shared resolve to take mutual cooperation to a new level, the FO said.

The UAE is Pakistan's largest trading partner in the Middle East and a major source of investments. The UAE is also among Pakistan's prime development partners in education, health and energy sectors.

It hosts more than 1.6 million expatriate Pakistani community, which contributes remittances of around USD 4.5 billion annually to the GDP.

This is the Crown Prince's second visit to Pakistan since Khan took office in August 2018.

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