KARACHI, Pakistan – Pakistan on Tuesday dismissed as “baseless” speculation regarding the possibility of its recognition of Israel.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Prime Minister Imran Khan has time and again stated Islamabad’s position on the issue, which is “clear” and “unequivocal.”

“The Prime Minister has made it clear that unless a just settlement of the Palestine issue, satisfactory to the Palestinian people, is found, Pakistan cannot recognize Israel,” the statement added.

The clarification came following reports about alleged pressure from the US and Saudi Arabia on Pakistan to recognize Israel.

“Pakistan steadfastly supports the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination,” the statement further said, adding, “For just and lasting peace, it is imperative to have a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions, with the pre-1967 borders, and Al-Quds Al-Sharif [Jerusalem] as the capital of a viable, independent and contiguous Palestinian State.”

In an interview earlier this month, Khan revealed that he had been under pressure from some “friendly” countries to establish diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv.

Although he did not name them despite being asked repeatedly whether the pressure is from Muslim or non-Muslim countries, many believe he indirectly pointed to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“Leave this [question]. There are things we cannot say. We have good relations with them,” Khan had said.

The UAE and Bahrain recently established diplomatic and economic relations with Tel Aviv. Oher Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia are also weighing options to normalize ties with Israel.

“Let us stand on our own feet in terms of the economy. Then you may ask these questions,” Khan further said, referring to Islamabad’s longtime economic dependence on the oil-rich Gulf states, largely Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

A number of local and international media outlets took Khan as hinting at the US, Pakistan’s longtime ally in the so-called war against terrorism, a contention quickly rejected by Islamabad.

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