PM Imran heads to Riyadh on mission to defuse Saudi-Iran tensions

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Shafaqna Pakistan:Prime Minister Imran Khan left for Saudi Arabia today evening as part of Islamabad’s efforts to defuse tensions between Tehran and Riyadh which peaked after an attack on a Saudi oil facility.

Following the premier’s visit to Iran on Sunday, the prime minister set off for the kingdom – his third trip to the country this year – to discuss regional developments and other matters with the Saudi leadership.

PM Imran is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, special assistant Zulfikar Bukhari, and ISI DG Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed.

A Foreign Office (FO) statement noted Pakistan’s strong ties with Saudi Arabia “marked by mutual trust, understanding, close cooperation and an abiding tradition of supporting each other”.

PM Imran reiterated on his visit to Iran that Pakistan was ready to act as a facilitator between Iran and Saudi Arabia, to sort out their differences through dialogue.

The prime minister said, “The issue is a complex one but it is possible to sort out differences through dialogue.”

He also explained that his trip to Iran would be followed with a visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday which was sole “Pakistan’s initiative” as they were not asked by anyone to undertake such a trip.

He made it clear that Pakistan’s role would be of a facilitator and not a mediator, stressing that it was imperative for everyone not to allow any conflict to take place in the region as he viewed certain vested interests which wanted to flare up tensions in the region.

Tensions have been high between Iran and Saudi Arabia since an attack on the Kingdom’s two oil facilities on September 14 that caused fires and damage.

Saudi Arabia temporarily halted production at two Aramco oil facilities after they were attacked by Yemeni rebels, interrupting about half of the company’s total output – shutting down 5.7 million barrels per day of production – more than 5% of global oil supply.