Saudi Arabia has reportedly joined Turkey and China in a move to block a US-sponsored attempt this week to place Pakistan on an international terror-financing watch list.
Washington had reportedly working behind the scenes during the ongoing Paris meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to take action against Islamabad, which it says has acted against terrorist financing and the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions.
Officials involved in the process told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that a US effort to reverse the decision on the watch list was under way Wednesday at the FAFT meeting.
The report said this was one of the “rare disagreements” between Saudi Arabia and the administration of US President Donald Trump.
The officials from the countries on the task force said Saudi Arabia was acting on behalf of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Saudi-dominated bloc of six Persian Gulf nations which are collectively a member of the FATF.
The report said the US is still trying for the FATF, a secretive international body that monitors countries’ efforts to fight terror financing and money-laundering, to take a decision on this by Thursday.
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The US effort, which included pressure on the Saudis, raised the possibility of a fresh vote on action against Pakistan as soon as Thursday, the officials said.
“We’re anticipating that the final decision would be made on Thursday of this week,” said Heather Nauert, a US State Department spokeswoman, reiterating that Pakistan was among countries that are not doing enough “to crack down on terror financing, counterterrorism and the like.”
The FATF was scheduled to meet through Friday and has not yet publicly announced any decision.
The Trump administration is angry with what it sees as Pakistan’s inadequate efforts to combat terror groups and has sought to ratchet up pressure on Islamabad. Pakistan has denied the allegations.
Saudi Arabia views Pakistan as its best bet for a long-term security guarantee.
Saudi Arabia’s move on behalf of Pakistan came just days after Islamabad said it would send more than 1,000 troops to the oil-rich kingdom on a “training and advice mission.”
The development is notable because Saudi Arabia has been pushing Pakistan to provide ships, aircraft and troops since 2015 for its devastating military campaign against Yemen.