TEHRAN: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said that Saudi Arabia and Iran are brotherly nations and Pakistan wants to defuse tensions between the two countries.
Speaking to media in Tehran after meeting Iranian President Hasan Rouhani and his cabinet members, the premier said Pakistan had achieved success in normalising ties between the two countries in 1997 and also played the same role during tensions between Iran and Iraq.
He said Pakistan will appoint a focal person on Saudi-Iran issue and sincere efforts are being done in this regard.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif had arrived in Tehran Tuesday ─ a day after holding meetings with Saudi leadership in Riyadh in a bid to defuse tensions between the two countries that soar after the hanging of a Shia cleric by Saudi Arabia.
After arrival Gen Raheel met Iran's Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan, said a statement issued from the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
Posted by Prime Minister's Office on Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Pakistan, Iran have great affinity: COAS
In his meeting with the Iranian defence minister, the army chief reiterated that "Pakistan takes Iran as a very important neighbouring Muslim country and the people of Pakistan have a great affinity with their Iranian brothers," added the statement.
Gen Raheel said terrorism is a global threat that can potentially destabilise the region, adding that a coordinated response was needed to deal with the menace.
The Iranian defence minister thanked Gen Raheel Sharif and the people of Pakistan for their efforts to bolster regional security.
PM off to Davos
After holding meetings with the Iranian President's cabinet and defence minister, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif departed from Tehran to Switzerland where he will participate in the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) from 20 to 25 January 2016.
He will also visit CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), one of the foremost international centers of scientific research.
From Saudi Arabia to Iran
During his visit to Saudi Arabia, the premier met with King Salman, and the prime minister is expected to deliver the king’s message to the Iranian leadership.
General Raheel Sharif also held a meeting with the kingdom’s defence minister soon after arriving in Saudia 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.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also assured the Saudi leadership of Pakistan's support, and expressed concern at the recent escalation of tensions between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic.
On the question of Iran, Syria and Iraq's exclusion from the recently announced 34-nation alliance by the Kingdom, it was stated that the countries were not included due to a trust deficit.
The kingdom has assured that if the Islamic Republic shows positive signs, diplomatic ties may be restored. A list of points have been given to the Pakistani leadership for discussion with Iran’s leadership, said diplomatic sources.
Nawaz called for resolution of the current crises through peaceful means in the larger interest of the Muslim world.
A wise step
With Pakistan embroiled in its own fight against terrorism, the sudden spike in rivalry between its two friendly countries put additional strains on the civil and military leadership.
Analysts regard the leadership’s diplomatic initiative a wise step to help Riyadh and Tehran prevent the current tensions from taking a hazardous 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 certain 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 after the execution of a prominent Shia cleric, 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 also attacked in Iran by angry protesters, which led to the severance of diplomatic ties between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic, further complicating an already tense atmosphere.