Ban: Pakistan Can Help Normalize Tehran-Riyadh Ties

Ban: Pakistan Can Help Normalize Tehran-Riyadh TiesBan: Pakistan Can Help Normalize Tehran-Riyadh Ties

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Pakistan can play a significant role in helping normalize Tehran-Riyadh relations.

In a telephone conversation with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday, the UN chief said the South Asian country "has good relations with both countries [Iran and Saudi Arabia]", urging Sharif to play his role and resolve the dispute between them, The Express Tribune reported.

Last month on January 19, Nawaz Sharif paid an official visit to Tehran in an attempt to help mend the rift between Tehran and Riyadh over the execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr by the kingdom.

The Pakistani premier had visited Riyadh ahead of his trip to Tehran to discuss the diplomatic row with King Salman. Tensions ran high between Iran and Saudi Arabia in recent weeks mainly due to Riyadh's execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, and a subsequent attack by outraged Iranian protesters on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, which resulted in the Arab country's decision to sever its ties with the Islamic Republic.

On January 2, Saudi Arabia executed Sheikh Nimr, among dozens of others. The move ignited widespread international condemnation from both political and religious figures.

Next day, furious demonstrators in the Iranian cities of Tehran and Mashhad stormed Saudi Arabia's diplomatic buildings in protest at the execution of Sheikh Nimr.

Although Iranian officials criticized the embassy attack and police arrested dozens involved, Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic.