Pakistan today said it is looking to sell JF-17 Thunder combat jets and trainer aircraft to Saudi Arabia, but rejected reports it was in talks with the oil-rich nation for nuclear cooperation. Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud is scheduled to visit Pakistan during February 15-17. The visit is expected to focus on deeper security and defence cooperation between the two sides.
Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam told a weekly news briefing that defence cooperation would figure in the Crown Prince’s interactions and that Pakistan was eyeing Saudi Arabia as a market for military gear. “Certainly, defence cooperation would figure in the talks. The army chief would be calling him separately,” she said.
Pakistan is interested in selling arms to Saudi Arabia, including the JF-17 Thunder jet co-developed with China, the Mushak trainer aircraft and other equipment, she added. Aslam rejected recent Western media reports suggesting that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are looking at nuclear cooperation, describing them as “baseless”. “There is a whispering campaign and at times there are reports based on leaks or background briefings…They are baseless. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are not discussing nuclear cooperation,” she said.
This would be Crown Prince’s first visit to Pakistan after he became Defence Minister in 2011. Prince Salman, Aslam noted, was also the Deputy Prime Minister. During the visit, the Prince will hold talks with President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on bilateral and global issues of mutual interest.