Possibility of PM Imran's visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran 'on the cards': FO

Updated October 10, 2019

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Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal addressing a press conference on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal addressing a press conference on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal on Thursday said that the possibility of a visit by Prime Minister Imran Khan to Saudi Arabia and Iran was "on the cards".

Addressing his weekly press briefing, Dr Faisal, in response to a question said: "The possibility of a visit of [the] prime minister to Saudi Arabia and Iran is on the cards and I will update you as things unfold."

Asked another question with regards to whether the possible visit was a continuation of the premier's recent visits to the United States and China or whether it had to with the regional situation, the FO spokesperson said: "[I] don't want to say anything further on this."

Media reports quoting sources had said that Prime Minister Imran was expected to hold consultations for the visits after returning from China and the dates for the potential trips would be discussed in the consultations.

While visiting the United States in September for the United Nations General Assembly, the prime minister said that US President Donald Trump had asked him to help defuse tensions with Iran, adding that he had already spoken with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in an attempt to mediate.

Read: PM Imran says he is mediating with Iran after Trump asked him to help

The premier had added that prior to arriving in New York he had visited Saudi Arabia and spoken to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who also asked him to talk to Rouhani.

Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year when Trump abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal and began reimposing sanctions on Iran in a stated campaign of "maximum pressure".

The United States blames Iran for an attack on the world's biggest crude oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia on September 14 and has said they will present evidence to back that up.

Turkish operation in Syria

Commenting on Turkey's operation against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria, Dr Faisal said: "We appreciate Turkey's positive role in finding a viable political solution to the conflict in Syria. We also acknowledge and commend Turkey's humanitarian efforts by graciously hosting over 3.5 million Syrian refugees on its soil.

"We recognise Turkey's legitimate security concerns in the region. Like Pakistan, Turkey has also been a victim of terrorism," he said.

The FO spokesperson added that Pakistan has and continues to support the territorial integrity of Syria and "expresses the hope that a political solution to the conflict will be reached at the earliest that takes into account concerns of all regional stakeholders and parties to the conflict".

Rafael jets sold to India

In response to a question regarding France's delivery to India of its first Rafale fighter jet and Pakistan's concerns, Dr Faisal said that Pakistan has spoken about a security and arms race in the region in detail before and its position remains the same.

"Pakistan is not ready to enter an arms race in any region. Our focus and particularly this government's focus is human development, education, health, etc."

"We urge the whole world not to take this region to an arms race. But if need be, February 27 is before you, we know how to defend ourselves, whether it be Rafael or anything else."