Iran’s Rouhani making first visit to Pakistan as president

BY KATHY GANNON

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Iran’s Hassan Rouhani arrived Friday in Pakistan on a landmark visit, his first since becoming president, at a time when Saudi Arabia is courting Islamabad to increase participation in a new Saudi-led military alliance of mostly Sunni nations, a coalition perceived by Tehran as an anti-Shiite block.

Pakistan, a majority Sunni country, has traditionally close ties with Saudi Arabia, which is hostile to Iran, a Shiite power. The kingdom accuses Tehran of supporting Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen against the internationally recognized president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition of mostly Gulf Arab states in a blistering air-campaign against the Houthis in the conflict in Yemen, widely seen as a proxy Saudi-Iran war.

Last year, Pakistan refused a Saudi request to send troops into Yemen after a vote in Parliament delivered an overwhelming “no.” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the kingdom in January, expressing support for the alliance but without making any military commitment. Local Pakistani papers have carried unconfirmed reports that Saudi Arabia asked Pakistan’s military chief, Raheel Sharif, to head the alliance.

Rouhani’s visit is also a landmark moment for Iran, after international sanctions in the wake of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Read more » Yahoo News
See more » http://news.yahoo.com/iranian-president-expected-pakistan-2-day-visit-062346406.html

 

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