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Pakistani PM, army chief visiting Saudi, Iran

Pakistani PM, army chief visiting Saudi, Iran

Islamabad/Tehran: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the army chief, General Raheel Sharif, on Monday embarked a visit to Saudi Arabia and Iran to ease tensions between them. This will be the first visit of a head of state or government to Iran after the lifting of US-imposed sanctions.

People in Pakistan and abroad await the outcome of the initiative taken by Nawaz Sharif to bring the two rivals to the negotiating table in the wake of Iran behading a Saudi cleric, Dawn online reported.

In announcing the January 18-19 visit to exchange views on regional and international issues, a Pakistani foregn office statement did not mention whether Nawaz Sharif would fly directly from Riyadh to Tehran or make separate visits to the two countries.

The statement said Pakistan was deeply concerned at the recent escalation of tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

"The prime minister has called for resolution of differences through peaceful means, in the larger interest of Muslim unity particularly during these challenging times," the statement said.

Pakistan had consistently advocated the policy of promoting brotherhood among member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the statement said.

With Gen.Raheel Sharif in the delegation, the visit has assumed added importance and it is hoped that Pakistan would make a serious attempt to defuse tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the report said.

Nawaz Sharif will travel to Saudi Arabia before visiting to Iran to play the role of a mediator to ease diplomatic tensions between Tehran and Riyadh, IRNA news agency reported on Monday.

The execution earlier this month of a Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al Nimr, who was a fierce critic of the royal family, sparked tensions bordering almost on hostility between the two countries.

Riyadh snapped diplomatic relations with Tehran after protesters set ablaze its embassy in Iran.

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