ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will leave for Saudi Arabia today (Sunday) to attend the US-Arab-Islamic Summit.

The summit will also be attended by US President Donald Trump and more than 35 leaders of the Islamic world to discuss the ways and means to fight the menace of terrorism and extremism.

Rumours were rife about the prime minister’s meeting with the US president on the sidelines of the summit, but a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that there was no such planned bilateral meeting between the two.

The foreign ministry said that the format and the very full agenda o the half-day summit, which is expected to have the participation of more than 35 leaders of the Islamic world as well as secretary generals of the OIC, Arab League and GCC, did not permit sideline bilateral meetings.

The prime minister would be attending the summit on the invitation of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz to participate in the first trilateral US-Arab-Islamic Summit in Riyadh.

The summit has acquired great significance as it would be the first visit of the US president since his assuming the power and would be interacting with leaders of the Muslim world.

Diplomatic experts were taking keen interest in the US president’s visit and his expected speech at the summit and his views on terrorism and extremism.

The summit will provide an opportunity to the participating countries to discuss how to overcome the menace of terrorism and extremism across the world. The summit is expected to delink ‘terrorism’ from any particular religion, culture, civilisation or region.

PM Nawaz will focus on Islam’s message of peace, tolerance and unity. He will highlight the great sacrifices and major successes achieved by Pakistan in defeating the scourge of terrorism and extremism.

The prime minister will also join the world leaders to attend the inauguration ceremony of the “World Centre against Extremism”, an important counter-radicalisation initiative by Saudi Arabia.

Nawaz reaffirmed Pakistan’s alliance with the Kingdom by recalling the commonality of views of two countries on most regional and international issues and their collaboration for achieving common interests and objectives.

Some experts on foreign affairs noted that keeping Iran out of the whole exercise may have a negative outcome as over 50 leaders from the Arab and Muslim world would be attending the summit aimed at discussing ways and means to eliminate terrorism and extremism.