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In major policy shift, Pakistan to deploy troops in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been pushing Pakistan to provide troops since 2015 when it joined Yemen's civil war but Pakistan steadily refused, saying it would not become party to any regional conflict

Press Trust of India  |  Islamabad 

General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan Army chief, Pakistan
General Qamar Javed Bajwa

In a major policy shift, has decided to deploy troops in under bilateral security cooperation with the kingdom which is involved in the ongoing civil war in neighbouring

The announced the decision after a meeting between General and Saudi to Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki, at headquarters in yesterday.

"In continuation of ongoing Pak-Saudi bilateral security cooperation, a contingent is being sent to Kingdom of (KSA) on training and advise mission. These or troops already there will not be employed outside KSA," the said.

It also said the "maintains bilateral security cooperation with many other Gulf/regional countries".

About the meeting of the with Bajwa, it said that matters of mutual interest including regional security situation were discussed during the meeting.

Already around 1,000 Pakistani troops are deployed in in various advisory and training roles, according to officials

There was no official word on the number of additional troops being sent to kingdom but the Dawn newspaper quoted "multiple sources" hinting that it might be the size of a composite brigade.

It spokesman Maj Gen that the new deployment would be much lesser than a division, and that he would give details later.

has been pushing to provide troops since 2015 when it joined Yemen's civil war but steadily refused, saying it would not become party to any regional conflict.

The war in stalemated and the situation has aggravated with the rebels firing missiles at regular intervals towards the kingdom.

The alliance of Muslim nations set up by and led by former is also still in an early stage to play any role in the conflict.

Bajwa earlier this month visited for three days and met officials including Crown and of Ground Forces Lt Gen

It was his second visit to the kingdom in two months and reportedly played a role in Pakistan's decision to deploy troops.

is treading a fine line in maintaining relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and other regional players and the decision of deploying troops may annoy Saudi Arabia's rivals like and

Bajwa has been playing a major role in addressing concerns of regional countries and met with of and earlier this week. He also recently visited and met its 'emir'.

The decision may also create tension in Pakistan's internal as parliament had passed a resolution at the start of the crisis that said would stay neutral in the conflict.

First Published: Fri, February 16 2018. 16:23 IST