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Pakistan Says PM Khan Could Visit Saudi Arabia, Iran For Mediation


FILE: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is welcomed by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah on September 19.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is likely to visit neighboring Iran and Saudi Arabia for possible mediation between the two archrivals and Muslim-majority countries.

"The possibility of a visit by the prime minister to Saudi Arabia and Iran is on the cards, and I will update you as things unfold," Pakistani foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal told journalists on October 10.

The announcement of the possible visit comes after Khan described a request by U.S. President Donald Trump last month, asking the Pakistani leader to help diffuse tensions with Iran. Washington had blamed Tehran for an attack on the world's biggest crude oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia.

Faisal declined to comment when asked whether the visit was related to the mediation request.

Tensions have elevated between Iran and Saudi Arabia since the attack, which took place on September 14.

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group, which has been fighting a Saudi-led military coalition since 2015, has claimed responsibility, but Washington and Riyadh say they believe the attack came from the opposite direction and blame Iran. Iran denies involvement.

Khan said after a meeting with Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City that he was "trying and mediating" and had also spoken with Iranian President Hassan Rohani.

Khan has ramped up his government's engagement on the international stage, offering to negotiate regional tensions. He has separately proposed to Trump that Pakistan could help broker peace in neighboring Afghanistan.

Last week, Pakistani government ministers met with both Taliban representatives and the U.S. peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, in Islamabad while Pakistan's foreign minister called for a resumption in stalled peace talks between the Taliban and Washington.

The Taliban also met with Khalilzad, sources told Reuters, the first known contact since Trump halted talks last month, though officials said the talks did not represent a formal resumption of negotiations.

With reporting by Reuters

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