Pakistan rolls out red carpet welcome for UAE crown prince

ISLAMABAD: The red carpet was rolled out for Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in Islamabad Sunday, just weeks after his country offered $3 billion to support Pakistan’s battered economy.

In a rare gesture, Prime Minister Imran Khan met Al Nahyan at the Pakistan Air Force base and a formation of air force jets marked his arrival with a flyby.

The crown prince was also presented with a guard of honour by a contingent of Pakistani armed forces.

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The United Arab Emirates is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and a major investment source, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement ahead of the visit.

More than 1.5 million Pakistanis live in the gulf state and send millions of dollars in remittances back home, it added.

The crown prince last visited Pakistan in January 2007.

Al Nahyan, who is also deputy chief of the UAE’s armed forces, “will have a one-on-one meeting” with Khan, the statement said.

The UAE announced in December it would deposit $3 billion in the central bank of Pakistan to help “enhance liquidity” as the country struggles with a widening balance of payments crisis.

The Pakistani rupee plunged almost five percent to a record low at the end of November, after what appeared to be the sixth devaluation by the central bank in the past year.

It also secured $6 billion in funding from Saudi Arabia and struck a 12-month deal for a cash lifeline during Khan’s visit to the kingdom in October.

Islamabad has also received billions of dollars in Chinese loans to finance ambitious infrastructure projects.

A team from the International Monetary Fund visited Pakistan in November to discuss a possible bailout with officials but talks ended without agreement.

[source_without_link]Agence France-Presse[/source_without_link]