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Saudi Arabia, Pakistan Reiterate Call For Immediate Cease-Fire In Gaza

16.04.2024 20:42

Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with President Asif Zardari and Premier Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad.

The international community must act to secure an "immediate" cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said Tuesday during a visit to Pakistan.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud met with Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari, and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the capital Islamabad on Tuesday to discuss a host of bilateral and regional issues, including investment, trade, and Israel's ongoing offensive in Gaza.

During his meeting with Zardari, the two sides discussed the regional dynamics and recent developments in the Middle East and called for an "immediate and unconditional" cease-fire and end to the Israeli "atrocities" in Gaza, said a statement from the President Office.

At a later joint news conference with his Pakistani counterpart, Ishaq Dar, the top Saudi diplomat said: "The reality is the international community is not living up to its responsibility.

"We must do more to end the killing. We must do more to end the suffering of the people of Gaza, and we will continue to call for that."

He also pointed to the "potential of famine in Gaza" due to restrictions on humanitarian assistance.

"This is an unacceptable situation. It is a complete failure of the international system and then the systems of international law and governance to live up to their responsibilities," he added.

Noting that there is no justification for restricting humanitarian aid, he said: "We must have a cease-fire now and we must have access for humanitarian aid immediately."

'Catastrophe already inflaming the region'

Farhan underlined that the "humanitarian catastrophe" in the Gaza is already inflaming the region.

"We are already in an unstable region. We do not need more conflict in our region. We do not need more confrontation in our region. So, it is our position that de-escalation must be everybody's priority," he stressed.

He also noted that while humanitarian access to Gaza has improved, this only happened after mounting international pressure on Israel following a strike that killed several foreign aid workers earlier this month.

"We have finally now started to see a turnaround in the issue of aid. Unfortunately, that happened after six Western aid workers were killed by Israel. But it didn't happen after 33,000 Palestinians were killed. So, this shows you the continuing double standard that we have to deal with," he said.

He was referring to an Israeli strike in Gaza that killed seven aid workers — three British nationals, an Australian, a Polish national, a US-Canadian dual citizen and a Palestinian — of US-based food charity World Central Kitchen (WCK) on April 1.

The attack triggered condemnation around the globe and calls for accountability, with many, including WCK founder Jose Andres, disputing Israel's claim that the attack was a "mistake" and a case of "misidentification."

Echoing this demand, Dar also called for an "immediate and unconditional" cease-fire in Gaza, reiterating Islamabad's stance that a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state is the only way to resolve the Middle Eastern conflict.

In his meeting with Sharif, Farhan also discussed the "escalating" situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, a separate statement said.

Israel has waged a military offensive on Gaza since Oct. 7, 2023 cross-border attack by the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, which killed less than 1,200 people.

About 33,700 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the war began.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the seaside enclave, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The war has pushed 85% of Gaza's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while much of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which has urged it to do more to prevent famine in Gaza.

Saudi investment

Apart from Gaza, the Saudi foreign minister also discussed a bilateral ties, investment, and trade with Pakistani leadership.

Farhan, who arrived on a two-day visit to Pakistan on Monday, also attended the meeting of Islamabad's apex investment body to discuss ways of expediting Saudi investment in a variety of fields, including energy, aviation, mining, hospitality, and other sectors.

The meeting was also attended by Pakistan's powerful army chief, Gen. Asim Munir, who assured "full protection" to Saudi investors.

The two sides reiterated their resolve to build a "strong partnership and further promote economic cooperation" for the mutual benefit of both countries. -

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