Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Pakistan at the start of a three nation diplomatic tour designed to repair the kingdom’s reputation and bolster ties with key regional allies.
The crown prince’s visit could be overshadowed by dangerously spiraling tensions between Pakistan and India. The trip comes days after a suicide bomber killed 44 Indian paramilitary police in the disputed Kashmir region.
New Delhi has accused Pakistan of having a hand in Thursday’s attack and vowed to punish Islamabad, which denies involvement.
Iran, a regional rival of Saudi Arabia, accused Pakistan of harbouring and training militants behind a suicide bombing in Baluchistan that killed 27 troops on Wednesday.
Crown prince Mohammed is expected to travel to Dehli to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday. He will spend Thursday and Friday in China.
The three nation tour has been characterized as part of a Saudi “pivot to the east” and is in part meant to repair the crown prince’s reputation following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the ensuing state-led cover-up.
Despite his vow to shift Saudi Arabia to renewable energy, the trip is also in part a roadshow to sell Saudi oil. China is the world’s largest buyer of Saudi crude, and India is close behind.