Pakistan remains non-committal to Saudi military alliance

Pakistani leaders on Sunday assured Saudi Arabia of their solidarity, but gave no indication of joining the kingdom's 34-nation military alliance to fight terrorism in the Islamic world.

"The people of Pakistan would always stand with the people of Saudi Arabia against any threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the kingdom," Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said at a meeting with Saudi Defence Minister Mohammad bin Salman.

Salman is thought to be the architect of the alliance of Muslim countries the kingdom had proposed last month, but notably excluded its major regional rival Iran.

Pakistan had indicated that it would participate, depending on the details of the plan. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir visited Islamabad this week to do just that.

But his trip was overshadowed by recent tensions between Sunni-majority Gulf states and Shiite Iran after the execution by Saudi Arabia of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Salman also met Pakistan's powerful military chief Raheel Sharif.

"Any threat to Saudi Arabia's territorial integrity would evoke a strong response from Pakistan," a statement issued by the army quoted Sharif as telling the visiting minister.

None of the Pakistani leaders, however, explicitly assured Salman whether the country would join the alliance.

Last update: Sun, 10/01/2016 - 19:57

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