EghtesadOnline: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced that Saudi Arabia had positively responded to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initiative for defusing tensions in the Persian Gulf region by agreeing to give peace a chance.
“Saudi leaders have responded positively. It has been agreed that diplomacy is preferred and differences would be resolved through dialogue. We had a good start,” Qureshi told reporters at a press briefing at Pakistan’s Foreign Office on the prime minister’s Tuesday visit to the kingdom where the premier urged the Saudi leadership to peacefully resolve the regional disputes, according to the Dawn.
The prime minister had during his visit to Saudi Arabia met King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, according to Financial Tribune.
Qureshi said during the talks in Riyadh, the Pakistani delegation shared Islamabad’s perspective on the regional conflict, its assessment of the situation and the “Iranian sentiments”.
Khan had last Sunday visited Tehran where the Iranian leadership welcomed his efforts. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in an interview, said Tehran was ready for talks with Riyadh both directly and through intermediaries, and that Pakistan’s efforts in this regard were welcome.
Clouds of War Dispersing
Qureshi said, “If I were to present to you the crux of our discussion, I would say that the clouds of war and conflict that had gathered over the region are now dispersing.”
The foreign minister said Pakistan’s prime objective for the initiative was to prevent a military conflict that could have had devastating consequences for the region and the global economy.
In addition, he said the chances of a ceasefire in Yemen were brighter than ever before.
The Pakistani prime minister’s office, in a statement on the Saudi visit, described the talks with the Saudi leadership as “comprehensive and constructive”. It said the two sides agreed on “remaining engaged” and continuing consultations for taking the process forward.
Khan had in the meetings conveyed Pakistan’s readiness to facilitate efforts to deescalate tensions and resolve differences and disputes through peaceful means, the statement added.
The mechanism for taking the process forward was being negotiated, Qureshi said.
During his visit to Tehran, Khan had offered to host Iran-Saudi Arabia talks. Being fully cognizant of the complexity of the dispute in the Persian Gulf, Pakistan began the mediation effort, the foreign minister said while recalling similar initiatives that the country had taken in the past.
The positive engagements in Tehran and Riyadh were cause for hope, he maintained.
Besides pushing the peace agenda, Khan briefed the Saudi leadership about the situation in India-held Kashmir, where India continues with a crackdown, including continuous lockdown, curfew and communication restrictions for 70 days that had severely impacted the lives of over eight million Kashmiris.
He said the situation in India-held Kashmir had seriously imperiled peace and security in the region.
The Saudi leaders, according to the prime minister’s office, reiterated support for the Kashmir cause and highlighted the need for avoiding escalation of tensions in the subcontinent and peaceful resolution of the dispute.