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Saudi mediates to rescue Musharraf

world Updated: Aug 16, 2008 15:34 IST

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Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief dashed to Pakistan for talks with the government over its plans to impeach President Pervez Musharraf, a senior official said on Saturday.

The visit of Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz came amid speculation that Musharraf could be forced into exile if he bows to pressure from the ruling coalition to quit before he is impeached.

"Yes, Saudi intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz did visit Pakistan on Friday and met senior government officials," a senior coalition official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The main purpose of the visit was to find an amicable solution to the (Musharraf impeachment) issue and that no one should become a laughing stock," the official said.

Asked what solution the coalition regarded as acceptable, the official said that "Musharraf should step down" but that it was "really up to Musharraf" if his plans included exile to Saudi Arabia.

"Saudi Arabia is a very strong ally of both Pakistan and the US and the visit was a sincere and friendly effort to interact with all and sundry to settle the issue," the official said.

"The Saudis have very strong bonds of friendship with us. President Pervez Musharraf has also been very close to Riyadh during his rule," the official added.

The ruling coalition announced plans on August 7 to impeach Musharraf. It said on Friday that it plans to file impeachment charges in parliament next week.

Musharraf's spokesman said on Friday that the president would not step down, but allies and coalition officials said that talks were underway to secure a deal that could see him quit to avoid impeachment or prosecution.