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PM, army chief leave for Saudi Arabia to help resolve Gulf crisis

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif departed for Saudi Arabia today to help resolve the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.

He is accompanied by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz.

During the one-day visit, the premier will hold discussions with senior officials of the kingdom on the ongoing crisis involving Qatar and Saudi Arabia and other Arab states.

Sources said the prime minister may also make stopovers in other Gulf nations involved in the crisis.

Before his departure, the premier chaired a consultative session at the Prime Minister House to mull Pakistan’s response to the crisis.

The conference was attended by Aziz, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi, as well as envoys to UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, who were called back especially for the event.

The ambassadors briefed the premier on the ground reality, while officials of the Foreign Office also weighed in their expertise.

The prime minister said Pakistan enjoys brotherly relations with all the countries in the region and will do all it can to amicably resolve the crisis.

During a media talk on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Kazakhstan, Sharif had stressed that Pakistan enjoys good relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar, and will try its best to resolve the differences between the Arab countries.

Last week, Saudi Arabia, along with Egypt, Bahrain and UAE, cut off all ties with Qatar on its alleged support of extremism and terrorism, as well as ties with Iran.

The diplomatic and business boycott was later adopted by Yemen, one of the Libyan governments, Maldives and Mauritius.

Kuwait is attempting to play the role of a mediator and hopes to diplomatically resolve the crisis.

Qatar has denied the claims made by Saudi Arabia and the other states.

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