Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday visited Iran on a mission to act as a “facilitator” between Tehran and Riyadh and try to defuse rising tensions in the Gulf.
Khan landed in Tehran around midday and met with President Hassan Rouhani at the presidential palace.
He was also scheduled to hold talks with Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, before travelling to Riyadh on Tuesday.
“The reason for this trip is that we do not want a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran,” Khan told reporters as he stood alongside Rouhani.
“Whatever it takes we must never allow this conflict to take place, because we know, Mr. President, that there is a vested interest that wants this to take place,” he told Rouhani.
Noting that it was a “complex” issue that can be resolved through talks, Khan warned that any conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia would “cause poverty in the world”.
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.
This is Khan’s second visit this year to Iran, which shares a border of about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) with Pakistan.
Emphasising that the visits to Tehran and Riyadh were Pakistan’s “initiative”, Khan said he was also approached by US President Donald Trump to “facilitate some sort of dialogue between Iran and the United States”.
Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since the US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May last year and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic republic.