Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will on Saturday embark on a trip for mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, officials disclosed. Khan would first travel to Iran where he will have a night stay. His meeting with President Hassan Rouhani has been scheduled for Sunday. He will later in the day go to Riyadh for meetings with the Saudi leadership, reports Dawn news.
Speaking at the weekly media briefing on Thursday, Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal confirmed Khan’s upcoming trip. “The visits of the Prime Minister to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran are on the cards,” he said without giving dates for the trip. “I will update you as and when things unfold.”
The mediation initiative is being taken at the request of Saudi Arabia. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman had during Khan’s last visit to Saudi Arabia asked him to help defuse tensions with Iran as Riyadh wanted to avoid war, according to Faisal. Tensions have been brewing between Tehran and Riyadh since the September 14 drone attacks on a Saudi oil facility and a processing plant.
Although the Yemeni Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility, both Saudi Arabia and the US have blamed Iran for the drone strikes – a charge Tehran has strongly rebutted. On the sidelines of the UNGA session in New York last month, Khan met Rouhani as part of the diplomatic push to defuse the Middle East tensions. To follow up the discussions, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi thrice met his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in New York.