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Qureshi begins Saudi visit to deepen ties

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi today begins an official visit to Saudi Arabia amid speculation in diplomatic circles here that the kingdom could play a supportive role in improving Indo-Pakistan ties.

world Updated: Apr 03, 2010 01:28 IST

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi today begins an official visit to Saudi Arabia amid speculation in diplomatic circles here that the kingdom could play a supportive role in improving Indo-Pakistan ties.

The speculation gained ground following the visit to Saudi Arabia last month by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who asked King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz to influence Pakistan to crack down on anti-India terror groups.

Prior to his departure, Qureshi noted that New Delhi had traditionally opposed "third party intervention" in efforts to normalise relations with Islamabad but said that Pakistan would have "no objections" if India wants Saudi Arabia to play a role.

"If they (India) think Saudi Arabia can play a role, Pakistan will have no objections," Qureshi told the media.

"What objection can Pakistan have? We have complete confidence in (Saudi Arabia) and a deep friendship.

India has always rejected third party intervention and gave importance to bilateralism," he said.

Qureshi said he would meet his Saudi counterpart and other leaders of the kingdom and that there was a "comprehensive agenda for discussions" during his visit.

Among the issues he would discuss are Prime Minister Singh’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the situation in Afghanistan, he added.

"We will exchange views on many issues, including their thoughts on the reconciliation and reintegration (process in Afghanistan)," Qureshi said.

Asked about reports that India is pressuring the US to deny Pakistan a civil nuclear deal, Qureshi said: "If India has started putting pressure, you can understand that our interaction (with the US) was successful and we achieved progress. That is why they are putting pressure.

If nothing was achieved then why would they put pressure?"

He refused to provide details of discussions during the recent US-Pakistan strategic dialogue on a possible civil nuclear deal for Islamabad.

"I believe it is not in Pakistan’s interest to talk on this issue at this stage but I am hopeful," he said.