Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is likely to visit Iran and Saudi Arabia as part of Islamabad’s efforts to defuse the increasing tensions in the Middle East. Tensions between Tehran and Kingdom soared after September 14 blasts at the Abqaiq and Khurais facilities temporarily knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production. Abqaiq was struck 18 times while Khurais, 200 kilometres southwest, was hit four times in a raid sparking fires that took five hours to extinguish.
The sources said Imran Khan would travel to Tehran today where he would meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. After the meeting, the prime minister will fly to Riyadh where he will meet the top Saudi leadership. Khan might be accompanied by a senior Pakistan army representative, they said.
Islamabad has been tight-lipped about the trip. Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal on Thursday said he would update media about the visit “as and when things unfold”.
The Express Tribune on Thursday reported that the Pakistani premier is likely to visit Iran and Saudi later this month to mediate between the two nations. However, the dates are yet to be finalised.
In 2016, the then Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif mediated between Saudi and Iran in a bid to defuse tensions between the two countries that soared after the hanging of prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi Arabia.
The relations between Washington and Tehran have also soared after US President Donald Trump pulled out of a nuclear accord with Iran, negotiated under former president Barack Obama.
The United States also imposed sanctions on Iran’s sovereign wealth fund, whose board of trustees includes President Hassan Rouhani, as well as Etemad Tejarate Pars, a company that the Treasury Department said had sent money internationally on behalf of Iran’s defence ministry.
Earlier, Trump while addressing the UNGA had already ruled out any possibility of easing economic pressure on Iran. Tensions between Iran and US ratcheted up after the Trump administration announced that it would unilaterally force all countries to stop buying Iran’s oil, which is its major export.