Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has arrived in Tehran to hold talks with senior Iranian officials amid heightened tensions in the Middle East.
Accompanied by his aide Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Khan arrived at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport on Sunday.
A Pakistani Foreign Ministry statement said the visit will focus on “peace and security in the region.”
The Pakistani premier is expected to sit down for talks with Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. He well then head to Saudi Arabia.
It is Khan’s second visit to Tehran this year amid an escalation in regional tensions.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 74th session of UN General Assembly in New York, Khan announced that US President Donald Trump and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had both asked him to mediate with Iran.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Saturday that the country was prepared to hold talks with Saudi Arabia, with or without mediation.
Prime Minister Imran thanked Rouhani for speaking up for the people of occupied Kashmir at the UN General Assembly in New York, where the two leaders also held a meeting on the sidelines.
“Mr President, the main reason I came here with my delegation is that we don’t want conflict in the region. Pakistan suffered 70,000 casualties in the last 15 years in the ‘war on terror’, Afghanistan is still suffering, [there is ] terrible devastation in Syria — we don’t want another conflict in this part of the world,” said Imran.
“Mr President, we have Iran as a neighbour, our ties with Iran go way back. Saudi Arabia has been one of our closest friends. Saudi Arabia has helped us when we have needed, when we have been in need and so the reason for this trip was that we don’t want a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“We recognise that it is a complex issue but we feel that it can be resolved through dialogue. What should never happen is a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran because this will not just affect this whole region — two brotherly countries will be affected — this will cause poverty in the world. Oil prices will go up.
“There is vested interest behind this conflict,” added the premier.
Speaking about his visit to Iran and upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia, he said it was Pakistan’s own initiative, saying he felt encouraged after his meeting with Rouhani.
“I will go to Saudi Arabia with a positive mind. We would like to play the role of a facilitator and not mediator. We want to facilitate two brotherly Islamic countries.
“It is a complex situation but it can be resolved.