Saudi-Iran row: Nawaz Sharif arrives in Tehran

Islamabad, Jan 19 (IANS) Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief General Raheel Sharif arrived in Tehran on Tuesday to meet Iranian leadership, as part of efforts to defuse rising tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Nawaz Sharif and Raheel will meet Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and call on Iranian grand spiritual leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Dawn online reported.

During the visit to Saudi Arabia, Nawaz Sharif met King Salman and will deliver the king’s message to the Iranian leadership in Tehran.

General Raheel also held a meeting with the Saudi defence minister soon after arriving in Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi and Pakistani leadership exchanged views on various facets of enduring cooperation with regards to the Saudi initiative of forming a coalition of Islamic countries against terrorism,” said a statement released by the foreign office of Pakistan.

Nawaz Sharif also assured the Saudi leadership of Pakistan’s support, and expressed concern at the recent escalation of tensions between Riyadh and Tehran.

Riyadh has assured that if Tehran shows positive signs, diplomatic ties may be restored.

A list of points has been given to the Pakistani leadership for discussion with Iran’s leadership, said diplomatic sources.

Nawaz Shafif called for resolution of the current crisis through peaceful means in the larger interest of the Muslim world.

Analysts regard Nawaz Sharif’s diplomatic initiative a wise step to help Riyadh and Tehran prevent the current tensions from taking a turn which could endanger peace of the entire region.

Moreover, with successful culmination of talks between big powers and Iran over the latter’s nuclear issue, Pakistan certainly eyes economic benefits from Tehran re-entering world trade.

“With Iran re-joining the world trade, Pakistan can look forward to meeting its energy needs from across the border by completing the pending gas pipeline,” remarked an analyst.

Tensions recently flared between the two regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran after the execution of a prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi Arabia, which led to the eruption of protests all over the region.

As a reaction to the execution of the cleric, Riyadh’s diplomatic post was attacked in Iran by angry protestors, which led to the severance of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, further complicating an already tense atmosphere.

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