TEHRAN: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday reiterated that Pakistan was ready to act as a facilitator between the two brotherly Muslims countries – Iran and Saudi Arabia – to sort out their differences through dialogue.
Addressing a joint press stakeout along with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani, the prime minister said, “In the past, Pakistan hosted Saudi Arabia and Iran and is again willing to facilitate the brotherly countries to iron out their differences.”
Prime Minister Imran along with his delegation had arrived on a day-long visit.
The prime minister said, “The issue is a complex one but it is possible to sort out differences through dialogue.”
The prime minister also explained that his trip to Iran would be followed with a visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday which was sole “Pakistan’s initiative” as they were not asked by anyone to undertake such a trip.
He made it clear that Pakistan’s role would be of a facilitator and not a mediator, stressing that it was imperative for everyone not to allow any conflict to take place in the region as he viewed certain vested interests which wanted to flare up tensions in the region.
Terming his consultations with the Iranian president as very encouraging, the prime minister said he would go to Saudi Arabia with a positive mind.
He said Pakistan had deep-rooted bilateral brotherly ties with Iran and Saudi Arabia was Pakistan’s closest friend as it had always helped them when they were in need. For these reasons, he said, nobody wanted a conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
The issue was recognised as a complex one, but he felt that it could be resolved through dialogue.
The prime minister said a conflict between the two countries would not just affect the whole region but also affect the developing countries as it would increase poverty in the world as the cost of oil would shoot up and the purchase of expensive oil could lead to further spending.
He said all the developing countries had the same point of view, only the vested interests wanted this conflict to take place. The prime minister said that during his visit to New York, US President Donald Trump spoke to him and asked him to facilitate dialogue with Iran.
Expressing his resolve, the prime minister assured the Iranian leadership that they would do whatever they could to facilitate US-Iran dialogue so that the sanctions could be lifted and agreement over the nuclear deal be signed.
Imran said the main reason for his visit to Iran was to avert any conflict in this region. Pakistan had suffered from 70,000 casualties in the war on terror, while Afghanistan and Syria were still reeling from the conflicts.
“They do not want another conflict in this region,” he said.
The prime minister also thanked the government of Iran for supporting people of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.
About eight million people in IOJ&K had been put under unrelenting curfew for more than two months.
“It is the biggest humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region,” he added.
The prime minister said it was his third meeting with the Iranian president, first in April, second in New York and third but brief one at Bishkek.
About his meeting in Tehran, the prime minister said he discussed bilateral ties, trade, and host of other issues of mutual interests and the ways to help each other.
He noted that Pakistan enjoyed strong ties with Iran and they still remembered how Iran stood with Pakistan in 1965 while facing hostilities.
President Rowhani said Iran and Pakistan were brotherly and friendly nations enjoying deep strategic relations.
The president said they openly welcomed the goodwill gesture by Pakistan and ready to assist it in its efforts for peace and stability in the region.
Appreciating the prime minister’s initiative, he said his visit would have benefits, adding they discussed a variety of issues significant for the region and the whole globe.
He said they had discussed the recent developments in the Gulf and emphasised on the strengthening of peace and stability in the region.
“We also emphasised that the goodwill gesture would be responded to with goodwill gesture and words,” he added.
Rowhani noted that emphasis on termination of the war in Yemen and humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen would bring peace and stability in the region, adding that the issue could be resolved through political dialogue.
The Iranian president also decried the pressing sanctions of the US and demanded the US to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, so that it could be implemented.
He also demanded the immediate lifting of the US sanctions. In May last year, President Trump had announced the US’ withdrawal from the JCPOA followed by the imposition of sanctions.