Pakistan Takes U-Turn On Saudi; Says Riyadh Won't Be Part Of Key Project
In a U-turn, Pakistan has announced that its close ally Saudi Arabia would not join the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, days after Islamabad said Riyadh will be the third "strategic partner" of China's flagship project, the Belt and Road Initiative. The 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. Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar told media 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,. "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.