Saudi, UAE crown princes played ‘commendable’ role in India crisis: Pakistan

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the Presidential Palace in Islamabad on February 18, 2019. (Supplied photo)
Updated 03 March 2019

Saudi, UAE crown princes played ‘commendable’ role in India crisis: Pakistan

  • Hostilities between India and Pakistan flared last month when more than 40 Indian troops died in a suicide attack
  • Both sides launched airstrikes on each other's territory and one Indian fighter jet was shot down

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Pakistan’s information minister said on Sunday that the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE played a “commendable” role in helping to defuse recent tensions on the subcontinent.

Hostilities broke out between India and Pakistan last month, when more than 40 Indian troops died in a suicide attack.

A Pakistan-based militant group claimed responsibility, prompting a furious India to launch an airstrike. Pakistan retaliated by launching its own incursion that ended with an Indian fighter jet being downed and its pilot being captured.

The weeks-long standoff was regarded as the worst in decades between the two countries.

Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry thanked the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed for their “commendable” interventions.

“Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Muslim countries have been a great help,” Chaudhry told Arab News when asked about the role of the Arab world in de-escalating the crisis.

He also welcomed the strongly worded resolution adopted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the disputed Kashmir region. 

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the territory, which they both claim in full but administer in part.

“From the recent OIC resolutions asking for a Kashmir resolution and condemning India ... it is evident that the Arab world cares about its relations with Pakistan. We are bonded by religion and have a very close economic and strategic relationship … every crisis actually strengthens this relationship,” he added.

But some analysts said Pakistan had expected a better response from Muslim states, especially the Arab world.

“We don’t deny the importance of India for the Arab world due to its big market for Arab investors,” former ambassador Shahid M. Amin told Arab News.

“However in a situation when Pakistan’s policy is that of restraint against India’s policy of escalation we were expecting that the response of the Arab world should have been more visible.”

Since taking office in 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to use India’s fast-growing economy to attract more investment from Islamic nations, particularly Saudi Arabia.

Prof. Dr. Talat A. Wizarat, an international relations expert, said countries should come forward when there was the threat of nuclear war.

“We condemned (the suicide attack in Kashmir’s) Pulwama as an act of terrorism,” he told Arab News. 

“We are ready to take action against all elements who are involved in terrorism. We released the Indian pilot. In this situation, we were expecting more visible support.”

But analyst Qamar Cheema said Pakistan should not further burden Arab states as it was already receiving economic aid from them.

Last year, Saudi Arabia offered Pakistan a $6 billion bailout package, and the UAE provided a similar-sized package. 

During a visit by the Saudi crown prince to Pakistan in February, the two countries signed agreements worth $21 billion.


Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

Updated 16 September 2019

Kim Jong Un invites Trump to Pyongyang

  • Invitation extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has invited US President Donald Trump to Pyongyang in his latest letter to the American head of state,  South Korea’s top diplomat said on Monday.

“I heard detailed explanations from US officials that there was such a letter a while ago,” Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa told a  parliamentary session. “But I’m not in a position to confirm what’s in the letter or when it was delivered.”

The foreign minister’s remarks followed reports by a local newspaper, JoongAng Ilbo, which said that Kim’s invitation was extended in an undisclosed personal letter sent to Trump on Aug. 15.

If true, the invitation was made as diplomats of the two governments were in a tug-of-war over the resumption of working-level talks for the North’s denuclearization efforts.

During a surprise meeting at the Korean border village of Panmunjom on June 30, Trump and Kim pledged that working-level nuclear disarmament talks would resume within a month, but no such talks have been held,  with both sides indulging in a blame game instead.

“We are very curious about the background of the American top  diplomat’s thoughtless remarks and we will watch what calculations he has,” North Korea’s first vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said on Aug. 30 in a statement carried by the North’s official Central News Agency (KCNA). He was referring to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments terming Pyongyang’s rocket launches as “rogue.”

However, the tone has changed significantly with the communist state recently offering to return to dialogue with Washington “at a time and place agreed late in September.”

“I want to believe that the US side would come out with an alternative based on a calculation method that serves both sides’ interests and is acceptable to us,” Choe said on Aug. 30.

On Monday, the director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s department of American affairs said working-level denuclearization talks will likely take place “in a few weeks” but demanded security guarantees and sanctions’ relief as prerequisites.

“The discussion of denuclearization may be possible when threats and hurdles endangering our system security and obstructing our  development are clearly removed beyond all doubt,” the statement said. 

HIGHLIGHT

It’s not clear whether the US president has responded to the invitation, thought he has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in was upbeat about the early resumption of nuclear talks.

“North Korea-US working-level dialogue will resume soon,” he said, citing an “unchanged commitment” to trust and peace by the leaders of both Koreas and the US. 

The working-level meeting will serve as a “force to advance the peace process on the Korean Peninsula,” he added.

Moon is scheduled to meet Trump on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly session in New York next week.

“It will be an opportunity to share opinions and gather wisdom with Trump on the direction of further development of South Korea-US  relations,” he said.

The White House offered no immediate comment.

It’s not clear whether Trump responded to Kim’s invitation to Pyongyang, but the US commander-in-chief has touted his personal relationship with the young North Korean dictator, who oversaw the test-firings of short-range ballistic missiles and multiple launch rockets more than half a dozen times since late July.

While none of the projectiles are a direct threat to the US continent they still pose threats to US and its allied forces in South Korea and Japan.

“Kim Jong-un has been, you know, pretty straight with me, I think,” Trump told reporters on August 24 before flying off to meet with world leaders at the G7 in France. “And we’re going to see what’s going on. We’re going to see what’s happening. He likes testing missiles.”

Experts say the apparent firing of US National Security Adviser John Bolton has also boosted chances of fresh negotiations with the North, which had long criticized him for his hawkish approach toward the regime.

“The displacement of a ‘bad guy’ could be construed as a negotiating tactic to seek a breakthrough in the stalemate of nuclear talks. It’s a show of a will to engage the counterpart in a friendlier manner from the perspective of negotiation science,” Park Sang-ki, an adjunct professor at the department of business management at Sejong University in Seoul, told Arab News.