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Iran foreign min in rare Saudi visit

Iran foreign min in rare Saudi visit
Iran’s foreign minister arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for a rare visit to the regional rival, bringing condolences after the death of King Abdullah, television pictures showed. Saudi officials greeted foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after he landed at a military airport in the capital.

Iran and Saudi Arabia, the region’s foremost Shia and Sunni Muslim powers, have had troubled relations in recent years after taking different sides in the Syrian civil war. Tehran has backed Syria president Bashar al-Assad while Riyadh supported Sunni rebels trying to topple him.

Zarif has previously declined a Saudi invitation to visit the kingdom, citing continued negotiations between his country and international powers over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme. In August last year Iran’s deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian held talks with Saudi foreign minister prince Saud al-Faisal in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

That was the first high-level Iranian visit to the kingdom since Hassan Rouhani became the Islamic republic’s president a year earlier. They discussed the fight against Islamic State group jihadists, who both nations oppose. Rouhani has stated his wish to improve relations with Iran’s neighbours, especially Saudi Arabia. Since the June 2013 election of Rouhani, regarded as a moderate, Iran has engaged in a diplomatic push with Riyadh but relations have soured in recent months over the falling global price of oil.

Both countries are members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries but Iranian officials have expressed frustration at Saudi Arabia for not taking steps to cut supply. Iran has been among the oil exporting countries worst hit by the price fall. Rouhani expressed his condolences after the death yesterday of Saudi King Abdullah, who has been succeeded by his half-brother Salman.


Pak may let Musharraf travel to Saudi Arabia
Pakistan’s government is considering whether to allow ex-president Pervez Musharraf to travel to Saudi Arabia to offer condolences to the royal family following the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, a media report said on Saturday.

Musharraf is not allowed to leave Pakistan due to the high treason case he has been facing since December 2013 for abrogating the Constitution in 2007 when he ruled the country. The Express Tribune reported the former military dictator, who like prime minister Nawaz Sharif enjoys close ties with the Saudi royal family, has written a letter to the interior ministry requesting that his name be removed from the Exit Control List (ECL).

“General (retired) Pervez Musharraf is desirous of visiting Saudi Arabia to express his heartfelt condolences over the sad demise of King Abdullah,” reads the letter written by advocate Faisal Hussain on behalf of the former president.

World leaders head to meet new King
Dignitaries and leaders from around the world were to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Saturday to offer their condolences to its new King Salman, a day after the death of his half-brother King Abdullah. British PM David Cameron, Prince Charles and French president Francois Hollande were among the first leaders expected while US vice-president Joe Biden was due to visit in the coming days.

Abdullah, a cautious reformer who led the US-allied Gulf state through a turbulent decade in a region shaken by the Arab Spring uprisings and Islamic extremism, died early Friday aged about 90. Since he took the throne in 2005, Riyadh has been a key Arab ally of Washington, last year joining the coalition carrying out air strikes against the Islamic State jihadist group. World leaders praised the king as a key mediator between Muslims and the West, but campaigners criticised his rights record and urged Salman to do more to protect freedom of speech and women’s rights. Gulf rulers and leaders, including Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif, were among those who attended Abdullah’s simple funeral at Riyadh’s Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque.

The late king’s body, wrapped in a cream-coloured shroud, was borne on a simple litter by members of the royal family wearing traditional red-and-white checked headgear.
Agencies

Agencies

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