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PM Imran Heads To Riyadh Hoping To Diffuse Iran-Saudi Tensions

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia on Tuesday (today) in an effort to defuse tensions between Tehran and Riyadh after an attack on a Saudi oil facility.

Following a successful visit to Iran on Sunday, the premier would now head to the oil-rich kingdom on his third trip to the country this year to discuss latest regional developments and other matters with the Saudi leadership.

According to a Foreign Office (FO) statement, Pakistan shares strong ties with Saudi Arabia that are “marked by mutual trust, understanding, close cooperation and an abiding tradition of supporting each other”.

During his visit to Iran, Imran Khan reiterated his commitment to act as a facilitator between Iran and Saudi Arabia and to help the two countries resolve their differences through dialogue.

On the occasion, PM Khan had said, “The issue is a complex one but it is possible to sort out differences through dialogue.” He had also said that he would head to Saudi Arabia after concluding his visit to Iran, while adding that these efforts were solely a part of “Pakistan’s initiative”.

He said that Pakistan’s role would only be confined to that of a facilitator and not as a mediator.

He stressed that it was necessary for all parties not to allow any conflict to take place in the region and said that he believed that some vested interests wanted to flare up tensions in the region.

Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia hit a new low after an attack on the kingdom’s two oil facilities on September 14.

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Following the attack, Saudi Arabia stopped oil production at two Aramco oil facilities after they were attacked by Yemeni rebels. The incident interrupted half of the company’s total output of 5.7 million barrels of oil production per day.

The rebels said that they launched “a large-scale operation involving 10 drones” on the facilities. The United States (US), a key ally of Saudi Arabia, had blamed Iran for the attack on Saudi oil facility.

“Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said after the strike.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused Iran of supplying arms to the rebels, a charge denied by Tehran.

On October 11, two missiles had struck and damaged an Iran-owned oil tanker off the Saudi port of Jeddah. “Two missiles hit the Iran-owned ship near the Jeddah port city of Saudi Arabia,” the state television reported, quoting the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).

The state television later said that Iran’s foreign ministry had confirmed that the Iranian-owned oil tanker had been attacked in the Red Sea and was damaged. After the strike, the tanker was seen leaking oil into the Red Sea some 60 miles from Jeddah. Yemen’s Houthi group had claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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