By Islamuddin Sajid
ISLAMABAD (AA) – Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday welcomed Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer to act as a “facilitator” between Tehran and Riyadh.
Addressing a joint news conference with Khan in Tehran, aired on state-run Pakistan Television, Rouhani said his country welcomes any gesture by Pakistan for peace in the region and appreciates Khan’s visit to Tehran.
"Any goodwill gesture will be responded by goodwill gesture," he said.
Khan, for his part, called the facilitation offer “Pakistan’s own initiative,” saying he felt encouraged after his meeting with Rouhani.
"I will go to Saudi Arabia with a positive mind. We would like to play the role of a facilitator and not mediator. We want to facilitate two brotherly Islamic countries,” the Pakistani premier said.
Previously, some media reports claimed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman requested Khan to play his role to end conflict with Iran.
Recalling his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump last month in New York on the sideline of United Nations General Assembly, Khan said Trump wanted to facilitate a dialogue between Washington and Tehran.
"President Trump spoke to me and he wanted us to facilitate some sort of dialogue between Iran and the U.S. We discussed things in detail in today’s meeting as well," Khan explained.
Earlier on Sunday morning, Khan along with a high level delegation, including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, arrived in Tehran.
In a statement on Saturday, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said that Khan is undertaking the visit to Tehran as part of his initiative to promote peace and security in the region.
Tension has escalated in the Gulf after drones hit two oil facilities in northern Saudi Arabia on Sept. 14
Iran-backed Houthi rebel group in Yemen had claimed responsibility for the attack, but the U.S. has since blamed Iran, as has Saudi Arabia. The Islamic Republic has denied any connection to the strikes.