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Pakistan offers to host Saudi-Iran talks

January 19, 2016

Iran's president has welcomed Islamabad's support for mediation to bolster relations between the two regional powers. Pakistan's prime minister said it was his country's "sacred mission" to encourage reconciliation.

Rouhani said Iran is opposed to tensinos between Muslim-majority nations
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/V. Salemi

Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday, a day after being received by Saudi's King Salman in Riyadh.

Sharif said it was Pakistan's "prime duty and sacred mission" to encourage reconciliation between the two regional powers after Riyadh and Sunni allies severed diplomatic ties with the Shiite-majority country in early January.

The move was a response to Iranian protesters storming the Saudi embassy and torching the building after Saudi authorities executed Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, along with 46 other people, for "terrorism."

Pakistan "always strives to…diminish tensions between Muslim nations," Sharif said.

Rouhani appeared to welcome Pakistan's overtures to serve as a mediator between the two countries.

"We wish to develop our relations and are opposed to any tension, as long as the rights of Muslims and the people of the region are respected and that the rules of diplomacy and politeness are respected," Rouhani told Sharif, according to the state-run IRNA new agency.

Saudi Arabia and Iran support opposing sides of conflicts in Syria and Yemen, where Riyadh launched airstrikes in March last year against Shiite rebels reportedly backed by Tehran.

In Syria, Saudi Arabia backs anti-government rebel groups attempting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Iran supports groups like Lebanon's Hezbollah that have operated in support of Damascus' forces in the war-torn country.

ls/kms (AFP, AP, dpa)