Imran Khan meets Malaysian PM

Imran Khan meets Malaysian PM; expresses regret over not attending summit of Muslim nations

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan shakes hands with Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad during his arrival at Malaysia Prime Minister Office in Putrajaya

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday regretted not attending a recent summit of Muslim nations hosted by Malaysia, saying there was "misconception" among some countries that it would divide the global Muslim community, according to media reports.

Khan's visit to Malaysia comes weeks after he skipped the Kuala Lumpur summit of some 20 Muslim countries hosted by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed in December which was attended by leaders from countries like Iran, Turkey and Qatar.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which had extended financial assistance to the Khan government to stave off the looming economic crisis, had objected that Pakistan would be sharing stage with leaders from Iran and Qatar, seen as challengers to their dominance in the region.

Khan travelled to Riyadh while Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa went to the UAE to persuade the leaders of the two Arab nations not to oppose Pakistan's participation in the summit but both returned empty handed.

Khan skipped the summit after Saudi Arabia made it clear that Riyadh was against the summit evolving into a group rivalling the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which is dominated by the Gulf Kingdom.

"There was a misconception among some countries that the conference would divide the ummah," Khan said during a joint press conference after talks with Mahathir in Putrajaya.

"I want to say how sad I was that I couldn't attend the conference in Kuala Lumpur in the middle of December," Khan was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.

Citing sources, the paper said that the visit of Khan is aimed at removing misgivings Malaysia may have about Pakistan for skipping the summit.

Khan said that at the time of the summit, he was looking forward to attending it as he felt that it was important that Muslim countries educate the West and other non-Muslim countries about Islam.

He responded in affirmative when asked whether he would attend the next Kuala Lumpur summit.

"Of course I would because now it is evident that the KL Summit was not to divide the ummah...If anything it was to unite the ummah, so of course I would love to come," he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.

Khan's Malaysia visit was aimed at further strengthening the historic Pakistan-Malaysia ties and taking bilateral cooperation to a higher level, the Prime Minister's Office tweeted. PTI RS ZH AKJ ZH

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