Pakistan FM seeks to defuse Saudi-Iran tensions in visits

Pakistan FM seeks to defuse Saudi-Iran tensions in Riyadh, Tehran visits
2 min read
12 January, 2020
Following Imran Khan's mediative efforts last year, Shah Mehmood Qureshi will visit the two regional rivals, following the cataclysmic events which have gripped Iran in the new year.
Pakistan has endeavored to maintain strong relations with both Iran and Saudi Arabia [Getty]
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is set to visit Tehran on Sunday in an attempt to de-escalate mounting tensions after the US-ordered killing of veteran Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.

Pakistan has long endavoured to manage its relations with two regional foes Saudi Arabia and Iran, with whom it shares a 1,000 kilometre stretch of border.

Sunday's visit comes at a moment marked by turmoil across the Middle East, following the death of the leader of Iran's expiditionary Quds force as well as Iran's horrifying admission that it shot down an airliner by mistake, killing all 176 people on board.

"Recent developments seriously endager peace and security in an already volatile region and underscore the need for immediate and collective efforts for a peaceful resolution," Pakistan's foreign office said in a statement.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi will relay to Iran "Pakistan's readiness to support all efforts that facillitate resolution of differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means", it said.

Following a meeting with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Qureshi will head to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 13, where he will convene talks with his Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan.

His visits to the major Middle Eastern powers will be concluded by a trip to the United States, a source in Pakistan's foreign office confirmed. 

Last year, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan travelled between Tehran and Riyadh, in mediation efforts luanched in the aftermath of an attack on Saudi Arabia's Aramco oil facilities that slashed the kingdom's crude oil output in half, setting oil markets alight.

Read more: Pakistan's Khan visits Riyadh in latest Saudi-Iran mediation efforts 

At the time, mediation was requested by US President Donald Trump and the Saudi crown prince.

Pakistan has upheld friendly and robust relations with Saudi Arabia, with over 2.5 million of its nationals living and working in the kingdom.

Yet it also maintains close with with Iran, representing the Islamic republic's consular interests in the US.

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