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PM Shehbaz Sharif to visit Turkey next week, confirms Foreign Office

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will be visiting Turkey next week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed Friday, embarking on his first visit to Ankara after assuming office last month.

“The prime minister would be visiting Turkey next week, and we would be sharing with you more details containing elements, specific elements and engagements envisaged during this visit,” FO spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said in response to a question during his weekly press briefing.

Former prime minister Imran Khan went to Turkey on a two-day visit in January 2019, where he met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara and other senior government officials.

PM Shehbaz Shahbaz has held two foreign trips this month to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), respectively, after assuming office on April 12, as he sought to strengthen bilateral ties with the oil-rich states.

Following the prime minister’s visit, Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan told Reuters this week that the Kingdom was finalising the extension of the $3 billion deposit to Pakistan.

Pakistan is in dire need of external finances, hurt by high inflation, reserves declining to as low as less than two months of imports, and a fast-weakening currency.

On other foreign engagements, the spokesperson said Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari visited Davos, Switzerland, to attend World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting from May 23-26, with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar accompanying him.

He said on the sidelines of the event, the foreign minister — accompanied by Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman and Khar held bilateral meetings with — Queen Máxima of The Netherlands, Foreign Minister of Finland Pekka Haavisto, Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, and others.

Prior to Davos, at the special invitation of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Bilawal visited China — his first bilateral visit abroad since assuming office last month — on May 21-22, the Foreign Office spokesperson said.

While beginning his press conference, the spokesperson strongly condemned and rejected the mala fide conviction and sentencing of Hurriyat leader Yasin Malik in a grossly suspicious and contrived case registered under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and Indian Penal Code (IPC) dating back to 2017.

The spokesperson noted that the Indian Charge d’Affaires (Cd’A) in Islamabad was called to the Foreign Office on 25 May and conveyed Pakistan’s strong indignation over the highly reprehensible sentencing of Malik.

Earlier in the week, in a strong statement, Foreign Minister Bilawal condemned the Indian court’s fallacious conviction of Yasin Malik and demanded his urgent and immediate release.


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