Islamabad | Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today left for Saudi Arabia with a high-level delegation, including the army chief, in a bid to cool tempers in the Gulf kingdom over Pakistan’s refusal to provide troops for war in Yemen.
In his second visit to the oil-rich kingdom in as many months, Prime Minister Sharif will discuss the situation in Yemen where a Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes against Shia Houthi rebels last month.
Sharif is accompanied by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, an official said. Saudi Arabia had asked Pakistan for military assistance, including ground troops, fighter jets and navy vessels to join the coalition forces in the Yemen operation.
However, the Pakistani parliament unanimously approved a resolution calling for maintaining neutrality during the conflict in Yemen, annoying Saudi leaders. The prime minister’s day-long visit comes about a week after his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif led a delegation to Riyadh but failed to mend ties.
The visit coincides with halting of the air strikes paving the way for talks to end the crisis. Apart from discussing the Yemen conflict, Sharif will also try to repair bilateral ties affected over Pakistan’s refusal to send troops for the conflict.
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