Saudi foreign minister to arrive on charm offensive.


ISLAMABAD -- The Saudi foreign minister is expected to pay a daylong visit to Islamabad on Thursday in what appears to be a damage control exercise in the wake of the Kuala Lumpur summit which Pakistan announced not to attend at the eleventh hour under what Turkish president termed Saudi threats.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had accepted Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's invitation to the summit which was held from Dec 18 to 21 to offer 'an international platform for Muslim leaders, intellectuals and discuss, exchange ideas about the issues revolving in the Muslim world.'

However, Pakistan suddenly pulled out of the moot after Prime Minister Imran's visit to Riyadh.

A Turkish newspaper later quoted President Recep Tayyib Erdogan as saying that Pakistan was pressured to stay away from the moot in which leaders of Malaysia, Turkey, Iran and Qatar participated.

Erdogan had 'unveiled' that Saudi Arabia threatened Pakistan to withdraw its financial assistance as well as to expel millions of its workers if it attended the gathering of Muslim leaders in Malaysian capital.

Following the Turkish newspaper report, Pakistan's foreign office issued a brief statement saying that Islamabad did not participate in the Kuala Lumpur summit because time and efforts were needed to address the concerns of major Muslim countries, regarding possible division in the Ummah.

Saudi Arabia however dismissed the claim as 'baseless' and insisted that its relationship with Pakistan is beyond the realm of threats. The Saudi Embassy in a statement had also clarified that Riyadh neither threatened nor stopped Islamabad from attending the KL summit.

Sources in the Foreign Office, nevertheless, conceded that Pakistan's decision to stay away from the summit stemmed from the Saudi reservations. They said the PM had travelled to Riyadh to assure Saudi Arabia that Pakistan's...

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