Saudi minister assails Iran for blaming Riyadh in attack

Pakistani President Arif Alvi on Monday conferred the country’s highest civil award on the Saudi crown prince.

18 February 2019 | 12:46

Source: Associated Press

  • Source: Associated Press
  • Last update: 18 February 2019 | 12:46

In this photo released by the Press Information Department, visiting Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, center, reviews guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. (Press Information Department via AP)

ISLAMABAD: A senior Saudi diplomat on Monday assailed Iran for initially blaming the kingdom for last week’s attack that killed 27 members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard.

The allegations by Iran, a “chief sponsor of terrorism,” sought to divert the attention of the Iranian people from the country’s own troubles, said Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi minister of state for foreign affairs.

The comments came as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was concluding a two-day visit to Pakistan. Al-Jubeir, the kingdom’s former foreign minister, is part of the prince’s entourage.

Pakistani President Arif Alvi on Monday conferred the country’s highest civil award on the Saudi crown prince.

Pakistan has close ties to Saudi Arabia — which along with the U.S. and Israel views Iran as a regional threat — and often balances between Riyadh and Tehran.

Iranian officials had at first said that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were behind the bombing on Wednesday in a region near the Pakistani border, but later said the attack was planned from “inside Pakistan.” The militant Sunni group Jaish al-Adl, which claimed responsibility, is believed to operate from havens in Pakistan.

“Saudi Arabia has been the victim of terrorism. ... we have been unmerciful in going after the terrorist and those who support them and condone them and finance them,” al-Jubeir said. “We will continue to do so.”

From Islamabad, the Saudi crown prince will travel to India.

On Sunday, Pakistan’s foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, assured his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, over the phone that Islamabad would fully cooperate in the investigation on the attack on Revolutionary Guard members. Islamabad has also pledged to act if Tehran shares evidence against those linked to the killing of Iranian guards.

Saudi Arabia a day before signed agreements worth $20 billion to help Pakistan overcome its financial crisis.

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