Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar meets her Saudi counterpart Dr Nizar bin Obaid Madani in Riyadh.—Dawn

RIYADH: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia agreed on Sunday to get over the irritants of recent past and take their relations to a much enhanced level.

A meeting between Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and her Saudi counterpart Dr Nizar bin Obaid Madani agreed that concrete steps would be taken to dispel an impression that there was a ‘chill’ in ties between the two countries.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that the ministers discussed ways of enhancing relations and reviewed regional and international issues of common interest.

Diplomatic circles are of the opinion that a perception in Riyadh and other Gulf capitals that Iran was interfering in internal affairs of Arab countries must have also come under discussion.

“That was the prime reason for the flurry of diplomatic exchanges between Islamabad and Riyadh. And Iran must have figured prominently during the discussion,” a senior diplomat said.

According to sources, Saudi Arabia asked Pakistan to use its influence and good relations with Iran to persuade it to avoid interfering in Arab internal affairs.

The two sides stressed that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had the capacity to lead Ummah during these turbulent times.

Saudi Arabia also assured Pakistan that it would support its endeavours to safeguard its interests in Afghanistan.

Pakistani sources confirmed that Saudi Arabian political leadership had categorically stated that Pakistan’s interests would be taken care of.

Ms Khar was reportedly told that Saudi Arabia considered its relationship with Pakistan as strong and ‘special’ and that no other country could come even close to this level of political understanding.

Ms Khar also meet Saudi Vice Finance Minister Dr Hamad bin Sulaiman Al-Bazai. They discussed cooperation in economic areas and means of bolstering economic ties. The two sides agreed to increase the volume of the current Pakistan-Saudi business.

The director-general of the Export Programme of the Saudi Fund for Development, Ahmed Al-Ghannam, acting deputy of the Ministry of Economic Affairs Dr Sulaiman Al-Turki, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Aziz Al- Ghadeer attended the meeting.

Ms Khar was aided by Pakistan’s Charge de Affaires Ayaz Mohammad Khan.