Pakistan will do its utmost to promote dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Imran Khan said, as tensions escalate between the two Persian Gulf rivals.
Stating that Pakistan would like to avoid conflicts in the region, Khan announced at a news conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran that "he would be happy to facilitate negotiations" with Riyadh.
"The main reason why I came here with my delegation is that we don't want conflicts in the region. Pakistan has suffered 70,000 casualties in the last 15 years in the 'war on terror', Afghanistan is still suffering, [there is] a terrible devastation in Syria – we don't want another conflict in this part of the world, "said Khan.
Khan held consultations with Rouhani last Sunday and was scheduled to meet with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei later in the day. He also said he would travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
Rouhani told the press conference that Tehran would welcome "any gesture" from Pakistan to help bring peace to the region.
"Any gesture of goodwill will be answered with a gesture of goodwill and good words," he told Khan.
Expanding this, the Iranian president said the end of the war in Yemen – which Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have been facing since 2015 – is "crucial to solving regional challenges." Both Tehran and Islamabad believe that regional crises have political solutions, he said.
His comments echo previous statements from Tehran. Prior to Khan's visit, Iran's foreign ministry said it was "always ready to hold talks with its neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, to get rid of any misunderstandings."