Pakistan PM heading to Iran after US mediation request

In this photo taken on Oct 9, 2019, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is seen at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China. He was scheduled to fly to neighbouring Iran at the weekend.
In this photo taken on Oct 9, 2019, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is seen at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China. He was scheduled to fly to neighbouring Iran at the weekend.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ISLAMABAD (REUTERS) - Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is heading for Teheran, two government officials said on Friday (Oct 11), weeks after the United States asked him to help mediate between long-time regional foes Saudi Arabia and Iran.

A top official at Mr Khan's office and another at the foreign office confirmed that Mr Khan was scheduled to fly to neighbouring Iran at the weekend. It was not immediately clear if Mr Khan had agreed to act as mediator.

"The Prime Minister is leaving for Iran most probably tomorrow, or Sunday," the official at the PM office said.

They both talked to Reuters on condition of anonymity because the foreign office has yet to make a formal announcement.

Pakistan's foreign office spokesman, Mr Mohammad Faisal, said on Thursday that Mr Khan might visit Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The Teheran visit comes after Mr Khan last month said US President Donald Trump had asked him to help defuse tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Washington blamed Teheran for a Sept 14 attack on the world's biggest crude oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia. Iran denies involvement.

An Iranian-owned oil tanker was struck, probably by missiles, in the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia's coast on Friday, Iranian media said.

The attack, which has yet to be independently confirmed, is the latest involving oil tankers in the Red Sea and Gulf area, and is likely to ratchet up tensions between Teheran and Riyadh, which have been fighting a proxy war in Yemen, at the southern end of the Red Sea.