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Nawaz Sharif set to attend ‘Arab Nato’ summit in Riyadh

Updated May 20, 2017 02:37pm


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Riyadh: A giant billboard bearing portraits of US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz is seen on a main road on Friday.—AFP
Riyadh: A giant billboard bearing portraits of US President Donald Trump and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz is seen on a main road on Friday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD/WASH­INGTON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will travel to Riyadh on Sunday to attend the first-ever Arab-Islamic-American Summit being held to develop a security partnership against a growing threat of violent extremism.

Mr Sharif is among the 54 leaders who would join US President Donald Trump for the summit being held on Sunday.

Read: The Saudi temptation

On Friday, President Trump left Washington for Riyadh for a visit that he and his allies hope could lay the foundations for an “Arab Nato force” to push back Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East as well as combat terrorism.

Saudis back Pakistan’s request for PM-Trump meeting; US president will deliver a speech on terrorism fight, Islam

The decision to choose the Muslim holy lands for Mr Trump’s first foreign visit has been noted with interest in Washington but his decision to speak about Islam in his address to the summit in Riyadh has generated even more interest, and some derisions too.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz invited Mr Sharif for the summit. The invitation was delivered by Saudi Information Minister Awwad bin Saleh al Awwad, who visited Islamabad last week.

The official website set up by the Saudi government in connection with President Trump’s trip, while explaining the objective of the summit, states: “US President Donald Trump and leaders of the world’s Islamic nations will meet to address ways of building more robust and effective security partnerships to counter and prevent the growing threat of terrorism and violent extremism around the globe through promoting tolerance and moderation.”

The Arab-Islamic-American summit is one of the three Riyadh has planned for President Trump’s visit. The other two summits being held on this occasion are the Saudi-US Summit, and Gulf Cooperation Council-US Summit. The purpose of the entire exercise, apparently, is to reassert the Kingdom’s position as the main political and security force in the region. The eager Saudis have been running a countdown clock on the website for the trip, which started late on Friday night.

‘Fantasy of Arab Nato’

Pakistan is one of the closest allies of the Kingdom. The two maintain a strong defence partnership. The Pakistani government granted special permission to the former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif to lead the multinational military force being created by the Saudis. British journalist Robert Fisk, an expert on Middle Eastern affairs, in his article in the Independent wrote that Mr Trump’s visit was for realising “the fantasy of an Arab Nato”.

Mr Sharif, while accepting the invitation for the summit, has reaffirmed Pakistan’s alliance with the Kingdom by recalling the commonality of views of two countries on most regional and international issues and their collaboration for achieving common interests and objectives.

It is unlikely that Prime Minister Sharif would get a one-on-one bilateral meeting with President Trump on the sidelines of the summit. At least, Mr Trump’s schedule does not show any possibility for such an interaction. The Foreign Office was silent on chances of a speculated meeting between the two.

The Washington-based Pakistani media, however, have learned that the Saudis are backing Pakistan’s request for a brief Sharif-Trump meeting before the US president flies out to Israel and then to Europe for more talks with America’s Nato allies.

Diplomatic sources in Washington say that since scores of world leaders are attending the summit, it would be difficult to arrange exclusive meetings between the US president and other leaders but “Americans are trying to find space for a very brief one-on-one between Mr Sharif and Mr Trump”.

“Unfortunately I don’t have anything for you,” a State Department official told Dawn when asked if the two leaders were going to have an exclusive meeting. Officials at the Pakistan Embassy said that since this matter was handled in Islamabad, they had no information about this.

The summit is being discussed at every forum in the US, from Congress to think tanks and the media. The US media and think tanks pointed out that days before the summit, the Trump administration announced two major arms deals: $1 billion worth of missiles for the UAE and a much larger, $100bn deal with Saudi Arabia.

Media reports pointed out that these weapons would be used to equip “a Muslim Nato army,” headed by Saudi Arabia. The reports also noted that Gen Raheel would lead this force.

An anti-Iran alliance?

Reports also pointed out that while 54 leaders from across the Arab and Muslim worlds had been invited to the summit, Iran has been kept out. Commentators in Washington noted that Iran’s absence made it look like an anti-Iranian alliance, despite its declared aim of fighting terrorism.

And President Trump’s meetings and conversations with Arab and Muslim leaders opposed to Iran’s growing influence in the region, particularly in Syria, consolidated this impression.

A readout of President Trump’s meeting with Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates at the White House said that the two leaders did talk about “the threat to regional stability posed by Iran.”

The US media reported that the UAE Crown Prince, who is also the Deputy Supreme Commander of his nation’s armed forces, is helping prepare Mr Trump for the summit. This was his second visit to the White House since Mr Trump took office.

They also discussed “steps to deepen our strategic partnership and promote stability and prosperity throughout the Middle East,” said the White House. “Bilateral defence cooperation, counterterrorism and resolving the conflicts in Yemen and Syria” were some of the other key issues that the two leaders discussed.

Published in Dawn, May 20th, 2017


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Comments (85) Closed

Tarzan May 20, 2017 07:30am

Why we didn't report on russia China Pakistan meet recently

F35 May 20, 2017 07:30am

Trump will be keen to learn more about Panama from PM Nawaz.........

Akram May 20, 2017 07:33am

Why so much importance to Trump?? Guys do Islamic nations have no self respect that they allow this guy to step on their soil, considering what he said about Muslims during presidential campaign??

Silenceiscrime May 20, 2017 07:50am

It is ironic to see Trump presiding over to solve problems of the Ummah in the holy land and flying over to Israel immediately afterwards. God help Muslims!

Ahaq May 20, 2017 07:51am

Strange that Trump will be lecturing muslim leaders on peace when he has made statements to stir violence against muslims during his presidential campaign. They should ask Trump first about hate messages against muslims in general during his campaign. Otherwise this whole thing sounds like a game of hypocrisy .

Saiira durrani(mirza) May 20, 2017 07:59am

Have fun Nawazji!

Shahid Khan May 20, 2017 08:24am

This is the most shameless news in years.

common sense May 20, 2017 08:29am

wow big diplomatic victory

IMTIAZ ALI KHAN May 20, 2017 08:34am

$100 worth of weapons bought to attack others nations. Joke KSA Corrupt kingdom. What a beautiful sacred land, but what a corrupt hypocrite rulers, live lavish life themselves oppression of their own people and immigrants who work in KSA.

wellwisher May 20, 2017 08:34am

utter nonsense

PKS May 20, 2017 08:34am

US-Pak heads meeting should be on a natural relationship. Both leaders should be eager to meet each other in any opportunity thats comes by.. Request is a negative word. This shows the relationship is degrading and US is not that keen to meet the leaders of Pak.

Kashif May 20, 2017 08:39am

Loosing hope on humanity.

Mustaq May 20, 2017 08:44am

@Shahid Khan, we are not Arab. We are Indian by heritage.

Imran May 20, 2017 08:46am

Step in the right direction, good luck

Shahid Khan May 20, 2017 08:52am

General Raheel and Nawaz are to meet in Riyadh

jai May 20, 2017 08:55am

How on earth do you manage to make yourself a laughing stock ..... repeatedly?

Lord of the obors May 20, 2017 08:59am

This will push all the neighbours of Pakistan like Iran and even China closer to India.

Saudagar May 20, 2017 09:30am

After all this you still expect Iran to be friendly with you?

TbH May 20, 2017 09:30am

Trump is visiting to ensure all 54 nations including Pakistan are now officially and firmly part of this alliance. This will further alleniate Iran

Sachin May 20, 2017 09:32am

Old alliances are back ? Deals made ? How will China like that ?

Vijay May 20, 2017 09:36am

Trump has called Muslims derogatory names many times and wants to ban them from immigrating to US and the same guy is going to address Islamic Summit. This is a height of hypocrisy between Trump and Saudis.

Shahid Khan May 20, 2017 09:43am

@Mustaq There is no mention of Arab or being Indian with respect,reference or regards to any statements I made

PAMNANI - INDIA May 20, 2017 09:59am

Happy journey once again- Enjoy

Ali Vazir May 20, 2017 10:04am

Perhaps we have very short memory. We have all forgotten who were blamed to be involved in the game changer of terrorism 9/11. 50% blamed the Saudis, other 50% blamed an internal job by US. So now the 2 are joining hands to fight something that they have themselves created, nurtured and played for decades. And above all our ex-army chief will head such military alliance; and our PM is desperate to be part of it. Good bye humanity. Welcome hypocrisy. And bows and salutes to ignorance back home.

Shahid Khan May 20, 2017 10:08am

One question for everyone? Is this Arab NATO same as Saudi military alliance? General Raheel heading this? Or is there a different alliance i.e. one Arab, one Islamic?

jahangir May 20, 2017 10:09am

Anxious times for IK. Its a fate one is on roads and one is taking country to new high

KR May 20, 2017 10:09am

Can't wait to see in what attire Mrs Trump will disembark

Brian May 20, 2017 10:14am

This picture of Nawaz Sharif and king Salman together reminds me pictures of Panama leaks.

Both were together on panama papers front page pictures.

Partners in crime for money laundering and corruption.

Now court should know how Qatari letter came.

Usama kazmi May 20, 2017 10:16am

What a weak step from Pakistan side to join coilation with Suadi Arabia and forgot the closed neighbour Iran. That's all due to lack of proper foreign policy and absence of foreign minister.

Zahid May 20, 2017 10:17am

This is not good

Usama kazmi May 20, 2017 10:20am

What a weak step from Pakistan side to join coilation with Arabs and forgot the neighbour country like Iran. Although surrounded by hostile neighbours Afg and India and also increasing hostility from Iran side. Why we d'nt have a proper foreign policy and foreign ministry?

Nizamuddin Ahmad Aali May 20, 2017 10:25am

Nawaz Sharif's action will be considered an act of treason in event of a war, puting our soldiers in harms way.

Larkanavi May 20, 2017 10:32am

A coalition destined to increase divide among Muslim nations. What a shame!

A s May 20, 2017 10:36am

Wanna see da airport officials oggling Mrs Trump

Zak May 20, 2017 10:41am

Iran may be out but it will not be the target. Gen Raheel will be the man who ensures common sense and balance to the force.

SAEED MASOOD May 20, 2017 10:41am

A very important development, which could make Iran jealous and more isolated.

Nazir. May 20, 2017 10:46am

Another meaningless alliance. Bending over backwards to lick the boots of a mentally unstable individual, who is derided by his own people, and is heading for a disaster. Pathetic.

China-Beijing May 20, 2017 10:48am

The only purpose of Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia is to collect the $100 billion protection fee ( the so-called "Weapon deal" ) from the Saudis.


Vishal May 20, 2017 10:54am

Is ur other all weather friend China not interested in this?

SAQIB May 20, 2017 10:56am

Yes to " increase prosperity in the middle east" indeed with $100 billion dollar of extra weaponary, more like prosperity for the American military industrial complex.

Raman Ranganathan May 20, 2017 10:56am

@Shahid Khan You are right. Both the alliance are set up to fight each other

Mahmood May 20, 2017 10:57am

The gathering of all corrupt, incompetent and useless leadership under one roof!

TRUTH May 20, 2017 10:58am

@Shahid Khan

Well said.

Mansoor May 20, 2017 11:04am

who will understand the Arab Brothers??

RAZAA May 20, 2017 11:07am

Great Nawaz Sharif should promote Secularism and help humanity

skumar May 20, 2017 11:10am

All such alliances only benefit already rich countries. No wonder, close friends of such countries still reel under poverty and violence. These rich countries need them for dirty work but will keep them in poverty .

Thiru May 20, 2017 11:31am

More expensive arms sales to benefit America, nothing more.

Ahmad May 20, 2017 11:47am

Arab NATO to secure dictatorship of Arabs.Ha ha ha. Joke of the millennium.

M. Emad May 20, 2017 12:27pm

Sheikh Hasina set to attend ‘Arab Nato’ summit in Riyadh.

Sayyar Khan May 20, 2017 12:27pm

Read between the lines. ARAB NATO. No where it says non ARAB. Not sure why he is attending.

ZAIDI May 20, 2017 12:31pm

Thank God , things are getting into perspective. No grey. Just black and white.

azadi dil KI May 20, 2017 12:36pm

Another friend lost in this geopolitics. This time it's Iran. One by one, you are loosing your neighborhood by just pleasing Saudi arabia, US and China. Carry on.

Balakrishnan May 20, 2017 12:42pm

The isolation plan of Iran in such a big level will counter productive for the country.

Kannadiga May 20, 2017 01:04pm

Is there any contribution of modern Arab to this world in any positive way ? No invention , no science, no new drug invention. If subcontinent had so much money , we would have been leaders in science and technology.

Parivel May 20, 2017 01:04pm

As soon as The corrupt king family stop paying protection money to world rouge USA, ther will be civil unrest in Saudi & the world will be come more safer... wait for some time, all oils money is drying... Renewable energy is getting itself much cheaper than oil & coal.....Arabs will become workers in South Asia.....

Ksa-PK May 20, 2017 01:09pm

Pakistan is a highly trustable partner for Saudi. They will never bend

Shahid Khan May 20, 2017 01:22pm

@Vijay Trump does not care about Muslims at all. In fact that's why he is doing this i.e. to destroy them or at least bring them down further. If you think he is helping Muslims, you are mistaken. Looting and plundering resources of 100 billion$ the Saudis need for the country is what is happening so the Saudis can get their weapons while American defense contractors who are the private wing part of the wider military industrial complex are satisified; it is these defense contractors who lobby for Trump to stay in power through their Republican senate or congress as he's bringing them currency notes or bills that bank and pay roll their bread and butter to even livelihood.

FAM May 20, 2017 01:31pm


Perfect comment, could not be expressed any better

FAM May 20, 2017 01:44pm


Well, you know these rulers have priorities. First they have to have money for their lavish lifestyles, then they have to keep the western military-industrial complex going, plus some money is needed to buy rulers in poor countries. After all this where is there any money left for trivial things like scientific research?

Raja farhat Abbas May 20, 2017 01:48pm

@Vijay..It is all Politics in the end!!!

lafanga May 20, 2017 01:58pm

@azadi dil KI This is how it is. Either it's Iran or its Saudi Arabia. Can't ride in two ships. India is majority non Muslim and is not involved in any ME politics so it can safely have relations with Iran and Saudis but it will be difficult going forward. Saudis are pursuing very aggressive policy against Iran and may draw clear lines.

Raja farhat Abbas May 20, 2017 02:01pm

@Saudagar ..Iran stopped being friendly with us when Iran chose INDIA over us as a friend!!.

MEA May 20, 2017 02:09pm

The Muslims are being gone to play with dividing Trump Card; the end result is more division among the Muslims world, more sales of US military hardware to oil rich Mid-East countries!

Berni May 20, 2017 02:26pm

Did they really buy USA for some $100 billion?

kp May 20, 2017 02:34pm

@Akram Dont run by sentiments, Politics is a strategy to make fool general masses by utilising religion. i hope you understand

Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad May 20, 2017 03:06pm

What other option does he has?

Ghaznavi May 20, 2017 03:16pm

Arabs as usual are dumb handing over $100bln to USA. It's so obvious what is going to happen as a result of this meeting. More divisions are going to be created in the Muslim world. Sunni against Shia Iran. On the sideline Israel is going to be watching with a glee . THIS is BAD NEWS FOR THE MUSLIM WORLD.

Ghaznavi May 20, 2017 03:18pm

This is bad news for the Muslim world. Saudis too dumb to realise what the Americans and Israelis are up to.

Kaspar May 20, 2017 03:19pm

This phantom alliance is an alliance of Saudi Arabia, by Saudi Arabia and for Saudi Arabia to serve Saudi interests. Our worthy PM-cum-FM will only succeed in increasing Pakistan's problems through his enthusiasm for this alliance. The costs far outweigh the benefits if we join it whole-heartedly, the road the current regime seems to be set on!

Uza Syed May 20, 2017 03:45pm

We should not become an instrument of destruction for another Muslim country. Iran is and has always been a good neighbor and supporter of Pakistan. Our best interests lie here, fire burning the neighbourhood would ultimately consume us eventually. We must do what we can to contain thus conflict and help the Saudis understand the importance of Iran staying intact.

the end is near May 20, 2017 04:16pm

Nawaz sharif very quickly completing his last visits before JIT's crucial decision.

ben May 20, 2017 04:19pm

@lafanga Saudi cannot afford that as India is one of their biggest clients. King is visiting India later this year. India will remain one of the biggest clients for Iran and saudi so neither can afford to get too angry with us if we do a deal with the other.

M. Siddique May 20, 2017 04:46pm

This alliance should NOT against any other Muslim country and specifically against Iran. Much talked about Saudi-Iran conflict is purely Western manufactured. In the last 400 years Iran has not invaded any Arab country.

Miqbal RANGOONWAla May 20, 2017 04:47pm

Iran is also muslims country and all muslims are brothers

M. Siddique May 20, 2017 04:49pm

@jai, Who are you addressing in you comment, Trump or Nawaz?

Iftikhar Husain May 20, 2017 05:03pm

Can there be peace in this area without the participation of Iran.

SHEIKH WAQAR-UL-HASSAN May 20, 2017 05:08pm

@Tarzan because it was not about USA...

citizen May 20, 2017 05:28pm

both leaders are smart businessmen....meeting will be certainly beneficial....

Pak May 20, 2017 06:53pm

@Mustaq ; I am a Pakhtun, a Pakistani citizen, and NO I am not an Indian origin

Ghani k May 20, 2017 07:03pm

If it is ARAB NATO why is our Mian Sahib going there ? We already gave them a general to lead a army. Donald Trump is there to make over a Billion $ deal mostly weapons of war and to assure the Royals of El Saud , that contrary to Obama's policy towards Iran, he is going to support Kingdom all the way. Trump's speeches against Islam are well known, now he is in Riadh to lecture us on Islam. There was time when Pakistan was joining every pact, SEATO, CENTO against Communist Russia, now we are doing the same against Iran. It is going to lead us to greater divide between Sunnis and Shias.

AHAQ May 20, 2017 09:03pm

@Ghani k Thank you. I do not want Pakistan to become like Syria and Iraq with extremist sectarian conflicts not just simply sunni shia but many flavors of extremists both religious and non-religion based, supported by Pakistan's enemy like India and now also Afghanistan in which mostly civilians innocents will suffer. Time for Pakistan to use wisdom to stay away from controversial conflicts, because in time of need all these so called arab nato supported by dictators will vanish simply looking only for their own best interests creating more chaos.

skumar May 20, 2017 10:18pm

real friends and iron brothers are those who develop us with industry and technology. Not those, who make a business to supply only weapons to kill our own brethren in the region.

James micheal May 21, 2017 10:39am

@Mustaq Thank you for being aware about it With love from India

Saba Shahid May 22, 2017 10:34am

@Akram But is again here, after saying all that he came himself which is a good thing and at that level you just cant tell a president to "go away dude, we dont take your type nicely in here" I think Afghanistan and Iran should not be included in the talks. They support india and that is something you cant neglect.

Naveen May 22, 2017 02:58pm

Pakistani seafood will be exported to Dubai and Iran by Chinese company!