PM Imran to visit Saudi Arabia on Tuesday


TEHRAN: Prime Minister Imran Khan will reach Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in a bid to mitigate tensions between regional rivals Iran and the Kingdom.

In Iran, the premier, while referring to the two crude-oil rich economies which came close to blows following the Sept 14 attack on Saudi oil facilities, warned that “any conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia would cause poverty in the world”.

“Pakistan suffered 70,000 casualties in the last 15 years in the war against terror,” he had said, noting that Afghanistan is still suffering.

“We don’t want another conflict in this part [Middle East] of the world,” he asserted.

During the visit, Prime Minister Imran held meetings with the top Iranian leadership, including the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.

Addressing a joint press conference with Iran President Hassan Rouhani after a meeting on Sunday, the prime minister had reiterated that his visit was aimed at reducing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

He had said that Saudi Arabia is one of the closest friends of Pakistan and Riyadh has “always helped Pakistan” in “all times of need”.

The prime minister emphasised that Pakistan does not want any conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, recognising that it was a “complex and complicated issue”. He said that he strongly believed that any issue could be resolved through dialogue and talks.

In its response, Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi had said: “Iran has announced that, with or without a mediator, it is always ready to hold talk with its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, to get rid of any misunderstandings.” The Kingdom, which is locked in several proxy wars in the region, is also inclined to a political solution.

The premier, who will reach the Kingdom today, will convey the developments regarding his meetings with the Iranian leadership.

It merits a mention here that last month the US President Donald Trump had asked Prime Minister Imran to “play a role in reducing tension between the two countries”.