Pak welcomes Saudi-led anti-terror military alliance

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Islamabad, Jan 8: Pakistan today welcomed Saudi Arabia's initiative to form a 34-nation Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism after the Kingdom's Foreign Minister met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and discussed a host of strategic issues, including bilateral ties and regional security situation.

Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir briefed the Prime Minister on the details of the Islamic military alliance against terrorism after Pakistan had announced its readiness to join it once all details were made available.

Nawaz Sharif

In the meeting, Sharif said that Pakistan welcomes Saudi Arabia's initiative and stressed that it supports all such regional and international efforts to counter terrorism and extremism, according to an official statement.

Riyadh had announced the formation of the coalition last month. Islamabad initially reacted cautiously to the announcement of the alliance, saying it was awaiting further details to decide the extent of its participation.

The alliance does not include countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria and Pakistan was wary of its constitution as it may pitch Islamabad against many Muslim nations which are not part of it.

Adel and Sharif also discussed regional security situation and matters of bilateral interest. The Prime Minister called for further strengthening and expanding bilateral relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, in all fields of cooperation, including defence, security, economic and commercial ties, according to an official statement.

The Foreign Minister also briefed Sharif on Saudi Arabia's growing tensions with Iran over the execution of a Shia cleric in the Kingdom. Sharif expressed deep concern at the escalation of the situation and condemned the burning down of Saudi Embassy in Tehran.

The Prime Minister called for resolution of differences through peaceful means "in the larger interest of the Muslim unity".

The Foreign Minister also held meetings with the Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz and army chief General Raheel Sharif.

Adel was originally scheduled to arrive on Sunday but the trip was delayed due to Saudi Arabia's growing tensions with Iran over the execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, in the Kingdom.

During the talks with Aziz, the two sides discussed ways to deepen bilateral cooperation in all fields and underscored the need to develop jointly a counter narrative against extremism and terrorism.

The two countries agreed to hold political consultations twice a year alternately in Islamabad and Riyadh. They agreed to make a concerted effort to promote multi-faceted cooperation and work together to defeat "common enemy – terrorism and extremism."

PTI

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