PM Nawaz Sharif calls on King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz

Jeddah: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday called on King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia here at the Royal Palace on Monday.

PM Sharif, who arrived in Jeddah for a one day visit , was received by Governor Makkah Prince Khalid bin Fysal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud and later King Salman also hosted an Iftar reception in honour of the visiting delegation.
King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz received the Prime Minister and his delegation upon arrival at the Palace.

The Prime Minister is visiting the Kingdom in the context of prevailing situation among the Gulf States.

He was accompanied by Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar, Advisor to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and senior officials.

PM Sharif’s mission comes in tandem with several other initiatives aimed at resolving the Middle Eastern rift, besides Saudi and Qatari delegations are also holding talks in Washington DC, facilitated by the US.
Although diplomatic observers are optimistic that a solution will soon be found, amid Saudi Arabia and its allied countries have taken a hard line on Qatar.

UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash said in a recent interview that “there is nothing to negotiate” with Qatar.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office had earlier expressed its concern over the crisis unfolding in the Arab world, which had led Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen and the UAE to sever ties with Qatar over allegations that the oil-rich island nation was sponsoring extremism and terrorism.

Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria had said: “Pakistan believes in unity among Muslim countries. We have made consistent efforts for its promotion.”

Unlike last year’s diplomatic crisis between Riyadh and Tehran, which PM Sharif had also attempted to defuse, a rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar poses a bigger foreign policy challenge for Pakistan, which has strong political, economic and security ties with both sides.

Domestically, the government had been under pressure to stay out of the conflict and, instead, play its role in trying to defuse tensions between the two sides.

Last week, the National Assembly adopted unanimously a resolution calling on all states in the Gulf region to shun their differences.

“This house calls upon all countries to show restraint and resolve all differences through dialogue. This house also calls upon the government to take concrete steps towards forging unity amongst the Muslim Ummah in the region,” the resolution said.

The prime minister had announced his intention to mediate during his visit to Astana for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit. “Since Pakistan enjoys good relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar, we will try our best to resolve the differences between them,” PM Sharif had told journalists accompanying him.

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