Imran to visit Tehran, Riyadh in mediation attempt

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Islamabad, Oct 10 (IANS) Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to travel to Iran and Saudi Arabia this month as part of Islamabad”s efforts to defuse brewing tensions in the Middle East, a Foreign Office official said here.

A official confirmed to The Express Tribune on Wednesday that Khan will visit Tehran and Riyadh in coming days, but the dates were yet to be finalised.

The purpose of the visit was to mediate between the two countries, added the official.

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.

But Pakistan and certain other countries have been trying to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Khan himself acknowledged the mediation efforts when he visited New York to attend the UN General Assembly session (UNGA) last month, The Express Tribune reported.

Khan had said that US President Donald Trump also asked him to help defuse tensions with Iran.

Before departing to New York, Prime Minister also made a stopover in Riyadh where he held talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

On the sidelines of the UNGA session, Khan met Iranian President Hassan 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.

Another official told The Express Tribune that Pakistan remained in contact with both Tehran and Riyadh to find a negotiated settlement of their current crises.

Against this backdrop, the Prime Minister would now visit Tehran and Riyadh.

–IANS

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