Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has offered to host talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia in an effort to resolve disputes between the rival countries. Sharif told Iranian President Hassan Rohani in Tehran on January 19 that he wants to improve relations between the mostly Sunni Saudi kingdom and predominantly Shi'ite Iran and will appoint an envoy to work on the issue.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with Iranian President Hassan Rohani
(source: Iranian daily Arman)
Sharif's visit to Tehran comes one day after he met in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, with King Salman.
Sharif said after his talks with Rohani that he will encourage Saudi officials to name a point person to work toward reconciling relations.
Sharif called improving Saudi-Iranian relations Pakistan's "prime duty and sacred mission."
Iranian state television reported that Rohani said bilateral relations could improve if Saudi Arabia pledged to respect the rights of Shi'ite Muslims.
Tense relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran worsened after Riyadh executed prominent Saudi cleric Nimr al-Nimr, a Shi'a, on January 2.
The execution of Nimr, an outspoken opposition figure in Saudi Arabia, led to Iranians storming and ransacking Saudi diplomatic buildings in Iran, leading to a severing of bilateral relations.
Based on reporting by AP and dpa
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