Pakistan pushes for Saudi-Iran reconciliation, offers to host talks

Published January 20th, 2016 - 03:45 GMT

On Tuesday, the prime minister of Pakistan offered to host talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran with an aim to resolve disputes between the two states.

Following a meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Salman in Riyadh the day before, Nawaz Sharif also met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran. Sharif then informed reporters that Iran was interested in improving relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and would designate a focal person for future talks.

Sharif announced he would discuss the appointment of a focal person with Saudi Arabia. The prime minister affirmed that the reconciliation of the two countries was Pakistan's "prime duty and sacred mission."

Iran's State TV reported that Rouhani welcomed the prospect of improved relations with Saudi Arabia. He said that ties with the kingdom could improve if Saudi Arabia pledged to respect the rights of Shias.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry expressed deep concerns at the recent escalation of tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Tensions between the two were exarcebated after the execution of a prominent and outspoken Saudi Shia cleric on January 2. The cleric represented a figure of opposition to the Kingdom. In Iran, angry protesters stormed the embassy of Saudi Arabia, to which Riyadh reacted by severing diplomatic ties with Tehran.

Iran's official IRNA news agency reported that Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi was to meet the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation on Tuesday and discuss the incident which took place in the Saudi embassy in Tehran. 
In Riyadh, the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir claimed the end of the sanctions on Iran was a dangerous development as the extra funds could enable "nefarious activities".

When asked if Saudi Arabia had considered seeking a bomb in the event that Iran managed to obtain one in spite of the nuclear deal, the Saudi Foreign Minister replied: "I don't think it would be a logical to expect us to discuss any such issue in public and I don't think it would be reasonable to expect me to answer this question one way or another.

"There are two things that we don't negotiate over in Saudi Arabia. Our faith and our security. We will do whatever we need to do in order to protect our people and our nation," he added.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry warned both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia against trading nuclear weapons, claiming there will be "all kinds of NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] consequences" if they were to proceed with nuclear plans.

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