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No decision on joining military campaign in Yemen before KSA visit: official

Updated March 30, 2015

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An image taken on March 29, 2015 shows a burnt petrol station in Yemen's second city of Aden. — AFP
An image taken on March 29, 2015 shows a burnt petrol station in Yemen's second city of Aden. — AFP
A Pakistani man hugs a family, evacuated from Yemen, on their arrival at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad on March 30, 2015. — AFP
A Pakistani man hugs a family, evacuated from Yemen, on their arrival at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad on March 30, 2015. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: As a high-level defence delegation is scheduled to leave for Saudi Arabia, a security official told Reuters that there would be no decision on joining the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen before the visit.

“There can be no decision (on joining the military campaign) before the delegation's visit,” one official said.

The team, led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on National Affairs and Foreign Security Sartaj Aziz, was due to leave either on Monday or in the next few days, security officials told Reuters.

Pakistan evacuated about 500 of its nationals by plane from Yemen on Sunday during a brief pause in air strikes by the Saudi-led military coalition against Shia Muslim Houthi forces, a Saudi military spokesman said.

Read more: Around 500 stranded Pakistanis return from Yemen

He said there were already around 750-800 Pakistani servicemen in Saudi Arabia but none were combat troops.

He declined to comment about their duties and it was not immediately clear what kind of military support Saudi Arabia was seeking.

Pakistan is a regional ally of Saudi Arabia, the main Sunni Muslim power in the Gulf, but has yet to commit itself publicly to military support to Riyadh's campaign in Yemen.

“Saudi Arabia had always helped Pakistan like an elder brother,” Asif told a seminar in Lahore shown on television channels. “Pakistan will extend all support to Saudi Arabia if the country's security is threatened.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in a telephone call with Saudi King Salman on Saturday, offered “all potentials of the Pakistan army”, media quoted the Saudi Press Agency as saying.

Take a look: Nawaz assures Saudi King Salman of Pakistan Army support