Thursday Apr 29 2021
Web Desk

PM Imran Khan welcomes Saudi Arabia’s peace initiative with Iran

Web Desk

  • Saudi Arabia's crown prince strikes a conciliatory tone towards the kingdom´s arch-nemesis Iran.
  • Mohammed bin Salman says "Iran is a neighbouring country, and all we aspire for is a good and special relationship with Iran.
  • PM Imran Khan says the peace initiative will strengthen the Muslim Ummah.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday welcomed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s initiative for peace with Iran and expressed the confidence that it would strengthen the Muslim Ummah.

In a statement on Twitter, the prime minister said: “We welcome the KSA initiative for peace with Iran. Iran is our neighbour and KSA our closest friend. This peace initiative will strengthen the Muslim Ummah”.

PM Imran also shared a news item with his tweet titled “Saudi Arabia’s crown prince seeks good relations with Iran”.

The news story is based upon an interview of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Al Arabiya TV, in which he said that they wanted “good relations” with Iran.

Pakistan has already offered to mediate between the two countries.

In an interview with Aljazeera last year, the premier had stated that their mediation efforts had de-escalated tensions in the region.

Last year, on the direction of PM Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had undertaken a visit to Tehran and Riyadh.

During his visit, the foreign minister shared Pakistan’s perspective on the situation, stressed the imperative of avoiding any conflict, underscored the importance to defuse tensions and the need for finding a diplomatic way forward.

According to a statement of the foreign office issued at that time, Pakistan’s extended its readiness to support all efforts that could facilitate the resolution of differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means.

Secret talks in Iraq

The statement from the Saudi leader came after sources said the rivals held secret talks in Baghdad.

"Iran is a neighbouring country, and all we aspire for is a good and special relationship with Iran," Mohammed bin Salman said in the interview.

"We do not want Iran’s situation to be difficult. On the contrary, we want Iran to grow... and to push the region and the world towards prosperity."

He added that Riyadh was working with regional and global partners to find solutions to Tehran’s "negative behaviour".

That marks a change in tone compared to Prince Mohammed’s previous interviews, in which he lashed out at Tehran, accusing it of fuelling regional insecurity.

The prince did not mention any negotiations with Tehran.

The talks in Baghdad, facilitated by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, remained secret until the Financial Times reported that a first meeting had been held on April 9.

An Iraqi government official confirmed the talks to AFP, while a Western diplomat said he had been "briefed in advance" about the effort to "broker a better relationship and decrease tensions".

Riyadh has officially denied the talks in its state-backed media while Tehran has stayed mum, asserting only that it has "always welcomed" dialogue with Saudi Arabia.