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PM Sharif will Seek to Allay Tehrans Fears (On Iran Trip)

Posted by on Monday, April 28, 2014, 10:41
This news item was posted in Politics category and has 0 Comments so far .

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will travel to Iran early next month in a bid to allay Tehran’s apprehensions regarding his government’s increased cooperation with Saudi Arabia, officials said on Sunday.

Nawaz Sharif

Nawaz Sharif

According to insiders, the visit is aimed at conveying a clear message that Islamabad has not changed its foreign policy as far as its ties with Iran are concerned.

“We will maintain friendly ties with both Tehran and Riyadh,” a senior foreign ministry official said. He added that the prime minister’s upcoming visit is a clear manifestation of this policy.

Nawaz is travelling to the neighbouring country at a time when Tehran is believed to have been increasingly upset over the warming up of ties between Islamabad and Riyadh in the past few months.

Since the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz came to power in June last year, there has been a visible improvement in ties with Saudi Arabia. A number of high-ranking officials from the oil-rich kingdom, including the Saudi crown prince and foreign minister, travelled to Islamabad in a short span of time. The high-level visits eventually led to Saudi Arabia ‘gifting’ an unprecedented $1.5 billion in cash to Pakistan.

The development led to speculation that the generous Saudi assistance was aimed at securing Islamabad’s support for Riyadh on the Syria imbroglio. The government has dismissed such speculation and insisted that there has been no change in its policy on the issue.

“The same message will be conveyed to the Iranians when the prime minister visits Tehran,” the official disclosed.

Another official pointed out that the prime minister will also offer Pakistan’s ‘good offices’ to mediate between Tehran and Riyadh, which are at odds with each other over the bloody Syria insurrection.

“We have helped them [Saudi Arabia and Iran] in the past and we are ready to play our part in cooling down the situation,” the official said. He added that it was in Pakistan’s interest to de-escalate tensions between the two important Muslim countries.

However, it is unclear whether Iran will be willing to accept Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a mediator because of his apparent close ties with the Saudi kingdom.

When contacted, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tasneem Aslam confirmed the prime minister will visit Tehran before May 15.

The visit, she said, would seek to ‘continue maintaining close ties and explore possibilities of enhancing economic cooperation with Iran.’ She added that important regional issues, including the Afghan situation, would also figure prominently during the discussion.

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