* Mamnoon, Salman mull ways to ease diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Qatar
MAKKAH: President Mamoon Hussain held a meeting with Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud at Safa Palace in Makkah to discuss relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Radio Pakistan reported on Sunday.
The two leaders spoke about the situation in Middle East and South Asia and pledged to stand by each other through thick and then.
King Salman had invited President Mamnoon and his delegation to an Iftar reception at his palace, said a press release received here on Sunday.
Both the leaders remained together for some time and discussed matters of mutual and bilateral interest. The president said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoyed fraternal relations and all Pakistanis had a special place for Saudi Arabia in their hearts.
President Mamnoon appreciated the generosity of the King Salman towards the Muslims visiting Haramain Sharifain and his efforts for providing efficient facilities to Umrah and Hajj pilgrims.
President Mamnoon also held meetings with his Yemeni counterpart Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and Kuwait’s national assembly speaker Marzouq bin Ali Al-Ghanim during his visit to Saudi Arabia.
Later, President Mamnoon and his delegation left for Pakistan through a commercial flight.
The president was seen off by Jeddah Governor Prince Mashal bin Majid bin Abdulaziz, Mayor of Jeddah Dr Hani bin Mohammad Abu Raes and other Saudi officials at King Abdul Aziz Airport of Jeddah.
The president’s meeting with the Saudi monarch comes in the backdrop of a deepening diplomatic rift in the Middle East and days after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held talks with King Salman during a one-day trip to the Kingdom.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia, backed by United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Maldives cut off all trade and diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing the country of sponsoring terrorism.
The deepening crisis in the region has been touted as the biggest in the Middle East and has led Pakistan, along with countries around the world, into coming up with a suitable strategy to end the conflict.
In its initial response to the crisis, Pakistan had stressed the need for unity in the Muslim world and urged the countries involved to engage in dialogue. However, there are worries that Pakistan would not be able to maintain its neutrality in the conflict for long.
During their meeting, King Salman told Sharif that ‘the fight against extremism and terrorism is in the interest of all Muslims and the Ummah’. Sections of the media reported that monarch urged PM Sharif to choose sides in the rift and asked him, “Are you with us or with Qatar?”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, along with his family members, also reached Jeddah on a private visit.