Pakistani PM visits Saudi Arabia, Iran to ease tensions

Islamabad, Jan 18 (IANS) Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on Monday embarked a visit to Saudi Arabia and Iran to ease tensions between them.

People in Pakistan and abroad await the outcome of the initiative taken by Nawaz Sharif to bring the two rivals to the negotiating table, Dawn online reported.

Nawaz Sharif will lead a high-level delegation to Saudi Arabia and Iran on January 18-19 to exchange views on regional and international issues, a foreign office statement said on Sunday.

The statement did not mention if Nawaz Sharif would fly directly from Riyadh to Tehran or make separate visits to the two countries.

With Raheel Sharif in the delegation, the visit has assumed added importance and it is hoped that Pakistan would make a serious attempt to defuse tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The foreign office in its statement said Pakistan was deeply concerned at the recent escalation of tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

“The prime minister has called for resolution of differences through peaceful means, in the larger interest of Muslim unity particularly during these challenging times,” the statement said.

Pakistan had consistently advocated the policy of promoting brotherhood among member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the statement said.

The execution earlier this month of a Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al Nimr, who was a fierce critic of the royal family, sparked tensions bordering almost on hostility between the two countries.

Riyadh snapped diplomatic relations with Tehran after its embassy in Iran was set ablaze by protesters.

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