Pakistan’s Imran Khan travels to Iran and Saudi Arabia to mediate crisis

October 13, 2019 (AO) – Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Iran on Sunday following a request from the United States and Saudi Arabia for him to try to defuse rising tensions in the Gulf. It is his second visit this year to Iran, which shares a border of about 1,000 kilometres with Pakistan.

Khan’s office said his visit was part of an initiative “to promote peace and security in the region”, and that he would hold talks with Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.

Khan landed in Tehran and was greeted at the airport by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif before going into a meeting with Rouhani.

Iran’s Mehr News Agency played down Kahn’s visit but quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi as saying that “the Islamic Republic has announced that it is always ready, with or without a mediator, to hold talks with its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia.”

Attacks on shipping

There has been a spate of still-unexplained attacks on shipping in and around the vital seaway involving Iran and Western powers, as well as drone attacks on Saudi oil installations.

Washington accused Tehran of attacking the vessels with mines and of being behind the drone assault, something it strongly denies.

Pakistan has strong relations with Saudi Arabia, with more than 2.5 million of its nationals living and working in the kingdom.

But it also maintains good relations with Iran and represents Tehran’s consular interests in the United States.

Khan met both Rouhani and US President Donald Trump at the United Nations General Assembly last month, shortly after he visited Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia.

The Arabian Al Arabyia website reported that Kahn will travel to Riyadh to meet with Saudi leaders.