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Islamabad reaffirms support to Yemeni leadership

Updated March 13, 2017

Top government officials in Islamabad on Monday reaffirmed their support to Yemeni leadership amid reports that the Pakistan army is sending combat troops to reinforce Saudi Arabia's southern border from attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels.

President Mamnoon Hussain in a meeting with Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister Abdulmalik Aduljalil Al-Mekhlafi today asserted that Muslim countries should work together for progress and stability by avoiding mutual differences, Radio Pakistan reported.

He told Al-Mekhlafi, who is also Yemen's foreign minister, that Pakistan wishes to contribute to progress and stability in Yemen, and desires the restoration of peace in the conflict-stricken country.

Manoon said Pakistan supports Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's efforts for peace in Yemen and regards him as the legitimate leader of the country. He added that Pakistan would continue to support Hadi and Yemen for peace and progress in the region.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz in a separate meeting with Al-Mekhlafi assured the Yemeni foreign minister that Pakistan has always supported the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen, and would continue to offer all possible assistance for restoration of peace and stability in the country, Radio Pakistan reported.

Aziz appreciated the Yemeni government's efforts towards restoring peace, harmony and stability in the war-torn country.

Both President Mamnoon Hussain and Aziz expressed gratitude for Yemen's cooperation in the evacuation of thousands of Pakistani nationals from the country during the conflict.

Al-Mekhlafi reciprocated gratitude towards the Pakistani government for its continued political support and economic assistance to Yemen. He said the country accords great importance to its ties with Pakistan and would welcome Pakistanis returning to Yemen.

The meeting comes as Middle East Eye in an exclusive report alleged that the Pakistani Army has, according to senior security sources, agreed to send "a brigade of combat troops to shore up Saudi Arabia’s vulnerable southern border from reprisal attacks mounted by the Houthis in Yemen."

The troops will allegedly only be deployed inside the border, the sources claimed, with one saying, "It will not be used beyond Saudi borders."

The report has not been verified by the army. The Pakistan Army's public relations wing did not comment on the reports.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and its allies launched air strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen in March 2015 after the fighters tightened their grip over Aden, where the country's president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi had taken refuge.

Hadi replaced former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012 when he stood as the sole candidate in the election to replace Saleh in a power transfer deal brokered by Gulf neighbours and backed by Western powers.

Pakistan had assured KSA of its support for a Saudi-led coalition conducting the strikes in Yemen in 2015, but lawmakers later on voted that Pakistan should remain neutral in the conflict.