Saudi Arabia presents to mediate between Pakistan, India

KARACHI, Pakistan

Saudi Arabia has offered its “full cooperation” in order to defuse escalating tensions between nuclear rivals Pakistan and India.

The offer was made by Saudi State Minister for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir who arrived in Islamabad on a day-long visit on Thursday to quell rising tensions between the two South Asian neighbors.

Jubeir, who is visiting Pakistan on the directive of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, met his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi, said a statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.

Qureshi, for his part, welcomed the crown prince’s rare offer to mediate between Pakistan and India, which follows promised multibillion-dollar Saudi investment in the two countries in recent months.

The visiting diplomat also met Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan where they discussed issues related to ongoing tensions and implementation of joint projects, local broadcaster Geo News reported.

Tensions between the two neighbors escalated following a suicide bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir in mid-February that left at least 40 Indian troops dead.

The escalations were further fueled by an air combat between the two air forces in which both sides claimed to have downed each other’s aircraft.

The two South Asian nations have fought three wars in 1948, 1965 and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir — since they were partitioned in 1947.

The Saudi offer is unlikely to impress New Delhi, which has long been rejecting any third-party mediation, mainly on the Kashmir dispute.

Riyadh has long been an economic and strategic partner of Islamabad, but avoids indulging in the lingering diplomatic row between Pakistan and India because of its huge investments in the two countries.

Last month, Saudi Arabia signed trade and investment agreements worth $20 billion with Pakistan, including establishment of an oil refinery in strategic port city of Gwadar.

Last year, state oil company Saudi Aramco signed a $44-billion deal with India to build a mega refinery on India’s west coast.