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Imran Khan to visit Saudi Arabia in first overseas trip as prime minister

Imran Khan was sworn in as Pakistan's prime minister on Saturday. [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 August, 2018

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Pakistan's new Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Saudi Arabia in his first official overseas trip, Pakistani media has reported.

Pakistan's new Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Saudi Arabia in his first official overseas trip, Pakistani media has reported.

The visit is likely to take place in the first week of September, with reports suggesting that Khan and Frist Lady Bushra Bibi will also perform Umrah and visit the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called Khan last week to congratulate the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman on his recent election victory.

Bin Salman said Riyadh was keen to invest in the country and strengthen bilateral relations, PTI's media department said.

Khan reportedly praised bin Salman's recent anti-corruption purge in Saudi Arabia, although critics have labelled it as a crackdown on rivals and a consolidation of power.

The Saudi ambassador to Pakistan was the first envoy to call Khan after his party won parliamentary elections in July.

Khan's leadership represents the end of decades rotating between two establishment parties, punctuated by periods of army rule.

But he and his cabinet face a myriad of challenges including a faltering economy, militant extremism, water shortages, and a rapidly growing population negating growth in the developing country, among others.

The most pressing is a looming balance-of-payments crisis, with analysts predicting Pakistan will have to go to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.

Khan made his first speech as Pakistan's prime minister late on Sunday, giving a wide-ranging, televised address in which he announced reforms targeting corruption and focusing on human development in the rapidly growing country.

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