Pakistan can play important role to reduce Iran Saudi tensions

BEIJING, Oct 14 (XINHUA/APP): Foreign affairs experts in Pakistan believe that Pakistan can play an important role to reduce the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia because of its impartial role in the crisis in the Gulf.

Tensions have heightened between Iran and Saudi Arabia since Houthis rebels launched attack on Saudi oil facilities on Sept. 14. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. blamed Iran for the attack, but was denied by Tehran.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Tehran on Oct. 13 as part of “his initiative to promote peace and security in the region,” according to the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan. He was scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to continue his mission.

The foreign ministry said on Sunday that Khan met Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani and both sides agreed to stay engaged and consult closely to take the process forward.

Foreign affairs experts said that Pakistan is in a better position to act as a mediator as it did not side with any country in the conflict in the Gulf.

Pakistan’s former ambassador Riaz Hussain Bukhari said both Iran and Saudi Arabia trust Pakistan and that is why Pakistan has been requested for a mediatory role, and Pakistan has accepted such a role because of its cordial relations with both of the Islamic countries.

Pakistan ready to act as facilitator

“I am confident that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s mission will be helpful in reducing Iran-Saudi tension,” he told Xinhua on Monday.

“We are in a position of mediation and to reduce their tensions and bring them closer,” said Bukhari, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe and held several diplomatic positions in countries including Saudi Arabia.

A Pakistani foreign ministry statement issued late Sunday said Khan underlined in his meeting with the Iranian leaders that the current situation in the Gulf “requires avoidance of military conflict and constructive engagement of all parties”.

“The Prime Minister conveyed Pakistan’s readiness to extend full facilitation of efforts for de-escalation of tensions and resolution of differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means,” the statement said.

Pakistan’s former ambassador Asif Khan Durrani described Khan’s mediatory role between Iran and Saudi Arabia as a good move as it would be difficult for Pakistan to have a choice among the two brotherly Islamic countries.

“It would be the most difficult test for Pakistan’s diplomacy. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit for mediation is helpful,” Durrani told Xinhua on Monday. Durrani has served as ambassador to Iran and the United Arab Emirates.

“Our neutral stance is our strength. It gives us an opportunity to play the role of a mediator among the Islamic countries. We would not be able to play the role of a mediator had we taken side,” he said.

Imran Khan says he is ‘trying and mediating’ to ease US-Iran tensions

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