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Pakistani PM 'Concerned' About Saudi-Iran Tensions

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed "deep concern" to Saudi King Salman over the worsening of Saudi-Iranian relations.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said Sharif shared his feelings with Salman on the "escalation of tensions" between the mainly Sunni kingdom and predominantly Shi'ite Iran during a January 18 visit to Riyadh.

Sharif's visit to Saudi Arabia is an attempt to improve relations between the two countries.

He is expected to arrive in Iran on January 19 for meetings with Iranian officials.

Khalilullah said Sharif also called for "an early resolution of [the Iranian-Saudi] differences through peaceful means, in the larger interest of [the Islamic nation]."

Saudi Arabia and several Arab allies cut diplomatic ties with Iran in early January after protesters attacked and destroyed Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran following the execution of Saudi Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of regional interference, particularly in Yemen, where it supports an opposition uprising that a Saudi-led coalition is fighting against.

Pakistan is a majority Sunni country but has a sizable Shi'ite population as well.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP