ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has taken up the new job of mediation for US-Iran peace after nearly brokering a deal between the US and Afghanistan.

The Taliban peace deal was declared ‘dead’ by US President Donald Trump just when it looked the US was set to shake hands with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan, however, is hopeful they will return to the talks table soon.

Last day, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that both the United States and Saudi Arabia had asked him to mediate with Iran to defuse tensions.

Khan met both US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations, before which he had visited Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia.

“Trump asked me that if we could de-escalate the situation and maybe come up with another deal. Yes, we did convey this, and yes, we’re trying our best,” PM Khan said.

Islamabad aims to mediate between Washington, Riyadh, Tehran

He added: “I immediately spoke to President Rouhani after the meeting with President Trump. I can’t say anything right now more than this except that we’re trying and mediating.”

In Saudi Arabia, which was hit earlier this month by attacks on its oil infrastructure blamed on Iran, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman “also asked me to talk to the Iranian president,” the premier said.

When asked about Khan’s remarks, Trump said PM Khan would like to mediate “and we have a very good relationship and there’s a chance that that could happen.” “A lot of people would like to get us to the table. We’ll see what happens but so far we have not agreed to a meeting,” Trump said on a possible meeting with Rouhani while they are both in New York.

In return, Imran Khan is seeking President Trump’s help on Kashmir to resolve the decades-old issue with India. Prime Minister Khan is leading the Pakistan delegation to the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

He will address the 193-member Assembly on September 27, sharing Pakistan’s perspective and position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, the current human rights situation and the related dimensions. The premier will discuss Islamabad’s position on key global and regional issues before one of the largest gatherings of leaders from around the world.

He will specifically focus on the deteriorating situation in Kashmir since August 5 when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi moved to annex the occupied state.

Prime Minister Khan is expected to make a clarion call on the international community and the United Nations to live up to their promise of the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Close aides of PM Khan told The Nation that the premier was optimistic about achieving some results on the Iran issue. “We have good ties with Saudi Arabia and Iran. In addition, PM Imran Khan had developed understanding with President Trump. We don’t want war in the region, so we will do our bit. Hopefully, we will succeed. We will mediate with a positive mindset,” said one aide.

Another top government official said Pakistan had already been speaking to all the three parties – US, Iran and Saudi Arabia – to avoid war in the region. “We have taken this job by ourselves. We have been working on it even before the PM’s US trip. Peace is in regional interest. We also want the US to respond on Kashmir. Pakistan believes, we should work together for peace,” he said.

Pakistan traditionally has strong relations with Saudi Arabia but also maintains ties with Iran, with Islamabad representing Tehran’s consular interests in the US in the absence of diplomatic relations.