Khan Heads to Iran, Saudi After Trip to China

Khan’s trip to the restive region comes days after he undertook 3-day visit –his third since becoming the PM –to China.

DESPARDES REPORT (UPDATED) — Prime Minister Imran Khan is heading for Tehran and Saudi Arabia post China visit and weeks after he announced in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly that President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had both asked him to mediate with Tehran– Pakistan has stayed neutral in Middle East tensions.

A top official at Khan’s office and another at the foreign office confirmed that Khan was scheduled to fly to neighboring Iran on the weekend, report Gulf Today.

Khan is expected to visit Saudi Arabia for two-days and will have meetings with the Crown and some other high-profile functionaries of the Royal Saudi administration.

Saudi Ambassador Retd. Admiral Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, is likely to return to the Kingdom on Friday for consultations with his leadership. JUI-F leader Maulana Fazalur Rehman had an important meeting with the Saudi envoy at the Saudi Mission in the Diplomatic Enclave on Thursday, report The News.

A highly-placed sources told The News that a senior official of the government also had a meeting with the ambassador later in the afternoon.

Khan’s trip to the restive region comes days after he undertook 3-day visit –his third since becoming the PM –to China where both nations resolved to advance military ties and deal with risks and challenges together.

The two ‘iron-brothers’ also reaffirmed their commitment to building a ‘Community of Shared Future in the New Era’.

Pakistan can ill-afford another conflict in the region because it is already dealing with security and economic challenges stemming from the war in neighboring Afghanistan, which entered its 19th year this month.

Adam Weinstein, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, told VOA news Pakistan could offer Riyadh and Tehran a face-saving channel of communication and path towards de-escalation.

“Pakistan’s relationship with Riyadh is far deeper than with Tehran. However, Pakistan has demonstrated that Saudi aid doesn’t buy unquestioning submission to Riyadh’s directives and Islamabad’s position on the sidelines of the Yemen conflict is just one example of this,” said Weinstein who served in Afghanistan and works in international trade and law regulations.

Meanwhile, President Xi Jinping arrived in the southern Indian city of Chennai on Friday for his second informal meeting with Indian PM Modi.