ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit Saudi Arabia today, two days after holding talks with the Iranian leadership in Tehran to defuse the tension in the Gulf.

Prime Minister Khan has said that he was on a mission to act as a “facilitator” between Tehran and Riyadh to defuse rising tensions in the Gulf. The PM will hold key meetings with Saudi leadership to devise solutions for curbing escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Officials told The Nation PM will convey Tehran’s message to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

“Pakistan hopes the peace efforts will be helpful and bring the two countries on the talks table,” said one official.

Earlier, at a news conference in Tehran with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, PM Imran Khan had warned: “Any conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia would cause poverty in the world. Pakistan suffered 70,000 casualties in the last 15 years in the war on terror, Afghanistan is still suffering, there is terrible devastation in Syria, we don’t want another conflict in this part of the world.”

Emphasising that the visits to Tehran and Riyadh were Pakistan’s own ‘initiative,’ PM Khan said he was also approached by US President Donald Trump to “facilitate some sort of dialogue between Iran and the United States.” Washington is backing Pakistan’s efforts for regional peace amid Prime Minister Khan’s visits to the Muslim-majority countries.

The US has already sent messages to Pakistan, appreciating Islamabad’s efforts to bring Iran and Saudi Arabia to the talks table.

Pakistan is regularly briefing the US counterparts on the regional developments amid tensions.  Regarding the upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia , PM Khan said in Tehran it was Pakistan’s own initiative, saying he felt encouraged after his meeting with the Iranian president.

“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. It is a complex situation but it can be resolved,” he maintained.

This was the Prime Minister’s second visit to Iran this year. The Prime Minister also had a bilateral meeting with the President of Iran on the sidelines of 74th UNGA Session in New York in September 2019.

In 2016, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had mediated between Saudi Arabia and Iran in a bid to defuse tensions between the two countries that soared after the hanging of prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi Arabia .

Pakistan has strong relations with Saudi Arabia , with more than 2.5 million of its nationals living and working in the kingdom, but it also maintains good relations with Iran and represents Tehran’s consular interests in the United States.

In September, Gas companies of Pakistan and Iran signed extended Iran-Pakistan gas line agreement after mutual consent. The top officials of National Iranian Oil Company and Pakistan’s Inter-State Gas System signed the amended IP gas deal under which Pakistan will build the said pipeline by August 26, 2024, in its territory.

After the agreement to extend the IP-GSPA, Iran withdrew legal notice it served on Pakistan on moving the arbitration court.

This year, Saudi Arabia started supplying oil to Pakistan on deferred payments worth $ 9.9 billion. Last October Saudi Arabia had announced an economic support package for Pakistan which included $ 3 billion for balance of external payments.