Imran Khan to visit Riyadh to help mitigate tensions between Saudi and Iran
Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will travel to Riyadh on Tuesday, two days after his visit to Tehran to help mitigate tensions between bitter regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Tension has been simmering between Iran and Saudi Arabia ever since the start of attacks on Yemen in 2015 by a coalition-led by Riyadh and execution of a prominent Shia cleric in the Gulf Kingdom in 2016.
Iran and Saudi Arabia came close to blows after damaging September 14 attack on oil facilities in the Gulf Kingdom. Saudi and its allies blamed Iran for the attack, a charge which Tehran denied.
On October 11, an Iranian-owned oil tanker was hit in Red Sea waters off the Saudi coast.
"Prime Minister Khan will confer with the Saudi leadership in light of his recent consultations with other leaders," the Foreign Office said, in an apparent reference to Khan's talks with Iran's top leadership on October 13.
It said that bilateral ties and other regional developments would also form part of the discussions.
This would be Khan's third visit to Saudi Arabia this year. His earlier visits were in May and September 2019.
During his Iran visit, Khan held talks with President Hassan Rouhani and also met with Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"The reason for this trip is that we do not want a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran," Khan had told reporters in Tehran alongside Rouhani.
Pakistan has been trying to improve ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia due its close ties with both nations.
Khan said in September that he was asked by US President Donald Trump to play a role in reducing tension between the two countries.
Pakistan has strong relations with Saudi Arabia, with more than 2.5 million of its nationals living and working in the kingdom, but it also maintains good relations with Iran and represents Tehran's consular interests in the United States.
It was Khan's second visit this year to Iran, which shares a border of about 1,000 kilometres with Pakistan.
The then prime minister Nawaz Sharif also visited the two capitals in 2016 to seek reduction in their differences.