Saudi Arabia has been invited to join the multi-billion dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the "third strategic partner," Islamabad said on Thursday.
"Pakistan has formally invited Saudi Arabia to become a third partner in the CPEC. Insha Allah (God willing), Saudi Arabia will be the first country that will join the CPEC with a huge investment as a third partner," Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said at a news conference in capital Islamabad.
The development follows Prime Minister Imran Khan's two-day visit to the Kingdom -- the first one after assuming the office last month -- earlier this week.
Chaudhry said a high-level Saudi delegation, including the treasury and energy ministers, would visit Pakistan next month to finalize an "important economic partnership" vis-a-vis CPEC, which is part of Beijing's ambitious One Road-One Belt plan.
A high-level coordination committee, he added, had been formed to look into the matters relating to bilateral trade and commerce, which had a complete backing of the Saudi King, Salman bin Abdel Aziz, and the Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman apart from Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan.
He, however, did not offer further details, particularly the expected volume of Saudi investment.
The $64 billion mega project signed in 2014 aims to connect China's strategically important northwestern Xinxiang province to Gawadar port through a network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport cargo, oil and gas.
The economic corridor will not only provide China cheaper access to Africa and the Middle East but will also earn Pakistan billions of dollars for providing transit facilities to the world’s second largest economy.