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Saudi-led 34-state military coalition is ridiculous: Iran Ambassador

19 March, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: Iran’s Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost on Friday criticised the Saudi-led 34-state Islamic military coalition formed to combat terrorism in the Muslim world, terming it “ridiculous”.

“If they [Muslim powers] are so serious in the fight against terrorism then why Iran, Iraq and Syria are kept out of this alliance,” the Iranian envoy questioned while addressing a press briefing in the federal capital. “On one hand they make this alliance but on the other hand they are funding terrorists and extremists,” Honardoost remarked. The Iranian envoy maintained that the militant Islamic State group had become a serious security threat to the Muslim world, and stressed the need for joint efforts to overcome this menace. Saudi Arabia has proposed a “NATO-like” military alliance of Muslim countries to combat terrorism. The proposed alliance would not be against any particular country but would combat terrorism and threats like ISIS.

Honardoost said the Iranian president is due to visit Pakistan by the end of this month and that he will sign a number of agreements and MoUs during his visit. “Iran is against any foreign interference in Syria and wants the crisis be resolved peacefully,” the ambassador stated. The coalition was announced by Saudi Arabia in December last year for coordinating and supporting military operations against terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan. The headquarters of the new Saudi-led coalition would be based in Riyadh.

The kingdom said it was “a duty to protect the Islamic nation from the evils of all terrorist groups and organisations, whatever their sect and name, which wreak death and corruption on earth and aim to terrorise the innocent.” Also, the ambassador said Iran was eager to increase electricity supply to Pakistan to 3,000 megawatts. He said that an agreement for power supply to Pakistan has already been signed, while another was scheduled to be signed during the upcoming visit of Iranian President Hasan Rouhani to Pakistan.

The agreement to provide the rest of 1,000MW would also be finalised in the near future, he said, adding that the visit of Iranian President, both the brotherly countries would discuss the bilateral relation as well as establishing the defence working group. Honardoost said the Iran gas pipeline was the cheapest and safest project between the two countries and it would fulfil the energy requirements of Pakistan. “We welcome the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Pipeline (TAPI) and import of LNG by Pakistan from Qatar,” he remarked. Honardoost said Pakistan and Iran were victims of terrorism and both the countries should make coordinated efforts to eliminate terrorism.

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