Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Saudi Arabia on Saturday to reassure the Kingdoms leadership that ties between the two nations remain firm despite Islamabad’s engagement with other Muslim countries, according to reports on Friday.
An Arab source disclosed the visit has been recently planned after signals from Riyadh that it was not happy with Khan’s decision to attend a Kuala Lumpur summit from December 18-20.
The Kuala Lumpur summit is the brainchild of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Other leaders participating in the summit are Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Iranian President Hasan Rouhani.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi held talks with his Saudi counterpart in Riyadh in what appears to be a visit linked to Islamabad’s efforts to seek de-escalation in rising tensions in the Persian Gulf region.
Pakistan has since been making efforts to facilitate dialogue between the two countries. Prime Minister Imran Khan made a stopover in Saudi Arabia on his way to the annual UN General Assembly session in New York in September to meet Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman.
In New York, he held meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani to defuse tensions between Tehran and Riyadh.
In October, Prime Minister Imran paid his visit to Iran while in November Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa also undertook a visit to Iran and met its top civil and military leadership.
Tensions have been brewing between Tehran and Riyadh since the missile attacks on Saudi oil facilities last month. Both Saudi Arabia and the US have blamed Iran for the drone strikes, claimed by the Houthi rebels. However, Tehran has strongly rebutted the charges.
Pakistan and certain other countries have been trying to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan traditionally has strong relations with Saudi Arabia but also maintains friendly ties with Iran.