Riyadh-Tehran mediation making ‘slow progress’

Premier tells Al Jazeera we have done our best to avoid military confrontation between two countries

Reuters August 03, 2020


Pakistan’s US-requested mediation efforts between Gulf rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran have been making slow progress, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday.

Prompted by Washington, the premier in October visited Tehran and Riyadh to facilitate talks after attacks on Gulf oil interests that the United States blamed on Iran.

“Our mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia has not stopped and we are making progress, but slowly,” PM Imran told Al Jazeera in extracts the broadcaster released from an interview to be aired in full on Wednesday.

“We have done our best to avoid a military confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and our efforts have succeeded,” Qatar-based TV channel also reported the prime minister as saying.

Iran has long been at odds with US Gulf ally Saudi Arabia.

US-Iranian frictions worsened when President Donald Trump’s administration withdrew in mid-2018 from an accord limiting Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for easing sanctions.

Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia had seen a sudden spike after Saudi oil facilitates came under missile attacks on September 14 last year. Both the US and Saudi Arabia accused Iran of being behind the drone strikes, although Tehran rebutted the claims.

Houthi rebels in Yemen, however, claimed responsibility for the attacks that suddenly led to an increase in oil prices in the international market.

It was believed that the threat of an immediate conflict in the Middle East had been prevented after efforts by certain countries, including Pakistan and Iraq.

This was not the first time Pakistan is trying to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which had been at loggerheads for years because of their divergent strategic interests in the Middle East.

Last time Pakistan had attempted to defuse tensions between the two countries over the conflict in Yemen. Pakistani leaders, including the then army chief General Raheel Sharif who is now the head of the Saudi-led coalition of Islamic countries against terrorism, visited both Iran and Saudi Arabia but those efforts had made little headway as unrest continued in Yemen. Reuters


With additional input from News Desk


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