PM Imran welcomes Saudi Arabia peace initiative with Iran
“Iran is a neighbouring country, and all we aspire for is a good and special relationship with Iran,” the crown prince said in an interview with Al Arabiya TV broadcast late Tuesday.
“We do not want Iran’s situation to be difficult. On the contrary, we want Iran to grow… and to push the region and the world towards prosperity.”
While lauding the Riyadh-Tehran thaw, PM Imran wrote on his official Twitter handle: “We welcome the KSA initiative for peace with Iran. Iran is our neighbour and KSA our closest friend. This peace initiative will strengthen the Muslim Ummah,” .
He also tagged a BBC story with his tweet titled “Saudi Arabia’s crown prince seeks good relations with Iran”
We welcome the KSA initiative for peace with Iran. Iran is our neighbour and KSA our closest friend. This peace initiative will strengthen the Muslim Ummah. https://t.co/LXj0pRiYFp
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 28, 2021
Pakistan has already offered to mediate between the two countries. In an interview with Al Jazeera last year, the prime minister had stated that their mediation efforts had de-escalated tensions in the region.
Last year, on the direction of PM Imran, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had undertaken a visit to Tehran and Riyadh.
During his visit, the foreign minister shared Pakistan’s perspective on the current situation, stressed the imperative of avoiding any conflict, underscored the importance of diffusion of tensions and stressed the need for finding a diplomatic way forward.
According to a statement of the Foreign Office issued at the time, Pakistan’s extended its readiness to support all efforts that could facilitate resolution of differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means.
Saudi Arabia and Iran, locked in a fierce struggle for regional dominance, cut ties in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following the kingdom’s execution of a revered cleric.
However, Mohammad bin Salman’s statement marked a change in tone compared to Prince Mohammed’s previous interviews, in which he lashed out at Tehran, accusing it of fuelling regional insecurity.
The initiative comes at a time of shifting power dynamics, as US President Joe Biden is seeking to revive the tattered 2015 nuclear deal that was abandoned by Donald Trump.
Saudi Arabia and Iran have backed opposite sides of several regional conflicts, from Syria to Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is fighting the Houthi rebels.
Iran supports the Houthi rebels, who are battling the Saudi-led military coalition that intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015.
The rebels have also stepped up drone and missile strikes on Saudi targets, including its oil facilities.
In his interview, Prince Mohammed renewed calls for a ceasefire and negotiations with the rebels.
(With additional input from agencies)