ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office has sought to claim credit for new detente between Saudi Arabia and Iran, observing Pakistan “had played its part in facilitating dialogue” to diffuse years of hostility that had threatened stability and security in the Gulf and helped fuel conflicts in the Middle East from Yemen to Syria.
The long-time rivals agreed last Friday to re-establish relations, in a deal brokered by China and announced after four days of previously undisclosed talks in Beijing between top security officials from the two Islamic nations.
Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute between the two countries over Riyadh’s execution of a Shi’ite cleric.
The kingdom also has blamed Iran for missile and drone attacks on its oil facilities in 2019 as well as attacks on tankers in Gulf waters. Iran denied the charges.
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement has also carried out cross-border missile and drone attacks into Saudi Arabia, which leads a coalition fighting the Houthis, and in 2022 extended the strikes to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Speaking at her weekly briefing on Friday, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said: “Pakistan, like several other countries and friends of both Iran and Saudi Arabia, had played its part in facilitating dialogue.”
“In this context, I would also like to recall that the first meeting of the two foreign ministers took place in Islamabad on the sidelines of the OIC meeting [in March of last year].”
Organised by the government of Imran Khan, the gathering in Islamabad of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, for the first time, saw the attendance of China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, as a special guest, a development many noted underscored Beijing’s increasing influence among Muslim nations.
Before that, in 2019, Khan embarked on a diplomatic offensive to ease the neighbouring nation’s tensions with Saudi Arabia and the United States.
Welcoming the latest development, Baloch said: “it was obvious that this agreement was a result of China’s meditation efforts and the constructive talks that it had facilitated, and the two sides were able to resolve their differences.”
“Pakistan does not wish to take away credit from China in this latest agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia on normalisation of relations and congratulates them on their successful diplomatic efforts,” she added.
— With Reuters