Pakistan’s Imran Khan to hold high-level talks in Riyadh days after devastating strike

imran khan saudi
Photo: AFP

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan will arrive in Riyadh today for two days of talks—a stopover on his way to the UN General Assembly in New York, which he will address on September 27.

Khan is slated to hold discussions with a host of senior officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). These are likely to focus on escalated tensions between Pakistan and India—most recently over New Delhi’s move to exert more control over Indian-administered Kashmir. MBS has opted to stay out of the Kashmir issue, arguing that it is between India and Pakistan.

For its part, Riyadh will be seeking support following Saturday’s attack on the towns of Abqaiq and Khurais, which shut down some 60% of the kingdom’s oil processing capacity. While Houthi rebels in Yemen have claimed responsibility, Saudi Arabia alleges that Iran was behind the attack. Saturday’s strikes have been the most effective in a series of attacks targeting Saudi petroleum assets in recent months amid a significant increase in tensions with Iran.

While Khan could offer a condemnation of the attack, he will likely refrain from any substantial support given Pakistan’s close ties with Iran. Indeed, top officials of Iran’s National Iranian Oil Company and Pakistan’s Inter-State Gas System renewed an existing natural gas deal on Monday, paving the way for the construction of a new gas pipeline between Iran and Pakistan by 2024.

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