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October 14, 2019

Pak-led initiative for Saudi-Iran friendship begins

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October 14, 2019

TEHRAN: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said he wished to facilitate — not mediate — talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani here, Imran said a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia should never happen. "The issue is complex but can be resolved through dialogue. Pakistan does not want any conflict in the region, as it has suffered 70,000 casualties in the war on terrorism and the neighbouring Afghanistan too suffered badly in the ongoing conflict,” he said.

Imran said Pakistan would do whatever possible to help lift sanctions on Iran and set up the deal on a nuclear agreement. He said Saudi Arabia was one of the closest friends that always helped Pakistan in times of need.

Imran emphasised that Pakistan did not want a conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia while recognising that it was a complex and complicated issue. “This visit to Iran and the visit that I will undertake to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday is a Pakistan-led initiative.

"I will go with a positive mind to Saudi [Arabia and] Pakistan will play the role of a facilitator,” he said, stressing that Pakistan was willing to host both countries in Islamabad. “When I was in New York, I was asked by the US President Trump to facilitate these talks and we will do all what we can. We would facilitate so that sanctions can be lifted [and] a nuclear deal can be signed,” the PM said.

Rouhani appreciated the steps taken by Pakistan to de-escalate regional peace and stability. The Iranian president said rocket attacks on an Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea was an attempt to damage regional stability but warned that it would be wrong to assume that there would not be any retaliation from Tehran.

He stressed that all areas were ready for realization of $5 billion trade between Tehran and Islamabad, and stated that Iran’s will was todevelop economic relations with all its neighbors, including Pakistan, and energy, transport, transit, port cooperation, development of border markets and technology transfer could accelerate the two countries’ relations.

President Rouhani said they had expressed their concerns to the prime minister about the incidents happening to oil tankers, especially the Iranian oil tanker in the Red Sea on Friday. Rouhani said he had presented Khan with evidence from the incident and that investigations were ongoing.

"If a country thinks that it can cause insecurity in the region and not receive a proper response, it is mistaken," Rouhani said, without elaborating. President Hassan Rouhani referred to tensions raised against the nations of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and especially Yemen in recent years and highlighted that military and political interference in regional countries has had disastrous results so far.

In another part of his remarks, the president stated that the only regime that benefited from any tension in the region was the Zionist regime, and highlighted that solving the problems of the region rather than inviting transnational powers and regimes that exploit tension and war in their favor required a change of strategy towards political dialogue with goodwill, creating security and the development of regional relations.

"We believe relying on terrorists, Zionists and the United States caused nothing but tension and damage to Islamic countries and nations in the region and the only way to lasting stability, security, and development in the region is dialogue and inter-regional cooperation".

He also considered maintaining peace and stability in the region, including the Persian Gulf, and securing the freedom and security of shipping in the Strait of Hormuz as the definitive policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran and stated that lasting security and peace in the Persian Gulf, the Oman Sea and the Strait of Hormuz was only met with the participation of countries of the region.

President Rouhani emphasized that Iran was always ready for dialogue and cooperation with all countries in the region. Rouhani said security in the region for both friends and brother countries of Iran and Pakistan was important and Iran in this field had been frontrunner and more recently presented the "Hormuz Peace Endeavor" based on collective cooperation in the region.

He said the Hormuz Peace Endeavor initiative encompassed different areas of collective cooperation for ensuring energy security, freedom of shipping and free movement of oil and other resources to and from the Strait of Hormuz and beyond.

In another part of his remarks, President Rouhani referred to the cruel US sanctions against the Iranian people, saying hostile behavior, sanctions and maximum pressure of the US government on the Iranian nation was the most important factor in straining relations between the two countries and it was up to the US to make decision due to the failure of its policies and end this futile course.

Separately, PM Imran also met Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whom he thanked for supporting the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. He said the Muslim Ummah had some internal and external challenges at the moment adding that there was a dire need for unity and integrity.

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