SA, Pakistan stress importance of dialogue between Islamabad, New Delhi to resolve outstanding issues, including Kashmir

JEDDAH, Apr 8 : Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have underlined the importance of dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi to resolve their “outstanding issues”, especially the Kashmir issue.

This was stated in a joint statement which was issued a day after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Saudi de-facto ruler Prince Mohammed bin Salman held an official meeting on April 7 at Al-Safa Palace in Mecca.

Their discussions centred on fortifying the fraternal relations between the two brotherly nations and exploring avenues for enhanced collaboration across various sectors, according to the joint statement.

They also discussed regional issues, including Kashmir, which was mentioned in the statement.

“The two sides stressed the importance of dialogue between Pakistan and India to resolve the outstanding issues between the two countries, especially the Jammu and Kashmir dispute to ensure peace and stability in the region,” it read.

New Delhi’s long-held position has been that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and there is no question of any mediation or intervention by any third party.

The ties between the two countries nosedived after India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the State into two Union Territories on August 5, 2019.

India’s decision evoked strong reactions from Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian envoy. India has repeatedly told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and shall forever” remain an integral part of the country.

India has said it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence.

The joint statement also said that emphasis was placed on the Gulf Kingdom’s supportive role in Pakistan’s economy and the mutual desire to strengthen trade and investment ties.

“Both parties affirmed their commitment to expediting the first wave of investment package worth $ 5 billion which was discussed previously,” it read.

The two leaders also exchanged views on regional and global developments of mutual interest, including the worrying situation in Gaza and urged for international efforts to halt Israeli military operations in Gaza and, mitigate humanitarian impact.

“They discussed the need for advancing the peace process in accordance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly as well as the Arab Peace Initiative aimed at finding a just and comprehensive solution, for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” according to the statement.

Prime Minister Sharif invited Bin Salman to undertake an official visit to Pakistan, which was accepted by the Crown Prince.

Sharif accompanied a high-level delegation to the Kingdom on Saturday on his maiden foreign trip to perform Umrah and meet the leadership of Saudi Arabia.

Separately, Radio Pakistan reported that Prime Minister Sharif and the Saudi Crown Prince reaffirmed their common resolve to further strengthen bilateral ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Both leaders appreciated the upward trajectory of longstanding fraternal relations between the two countries. (PTI)