Pakistan Takes A U-turn On Saudi Arabia Joining $50 Billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

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New Delhi: Pakistan has announced that its close ally Saudi Arabia would not join the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) taking a U-turn on the issue. It was announced days after Islamabad said Riyadh will be the third “strategic partner” of China’s flagship project, the Belt and Road Initiative.

CPEC is the flagship project of the multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of President Xi Jinping aimed at enhancing China’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.

Pakistani minister for planning and development Khusro Bakhtiar told the media on Tuesday that the cash-rich kingdom’s proposed investments would fall under a separate bilateral arrangement, Dawn news reported.

“Saudi Arabia is not to become a collateral strategic partner in the CPEC. This impression is not true,” he said.

A third country can participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by taking part in the business and investment ventures arising out of the project, Bakhtiar said.

“The framework between China and Pakistan is bilateral and Saudi Arabia is not entering that framework as a third-party investor, rather the base of the CPEC will be broadened and its pace will be expedited,” he said.

Last month, Pakistani information minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Saudi Arabia is the third “strategic partner” of the CPEC, soon after Prime Minister Imran Khan returned from his first foreign trip to the kingdom.

Interestingly Chaudhry was sitting with Bakhtiar when he issued clarification that Saudi Arabia participation in the CPEC was not as third partner in the project. Bakhtiar further said that there was no decision to bring a third country, like Saudi Arabia, under the framework of the CPEC.

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