Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has assured his visiting Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, of Pakistan’s continued efforts towards reducing tension in the region amid a simmering crisis between Tehran and Washington.
Zarif arrived in Islamabad on Thursday night on a critically timed two-day visit ahead of next week’s emergency Arab League meeting, called by Saudi Arabia over regional tensions.
The purpose of the visit was not made public, but there has been speculation that Iran is looking to Islamabad and its close relationship with Riyadh to help deescalate the situation.
The Iranian foreign minister held a meeting with Qureshi, and later called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser.
He is also expected to meet Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, as well as to brief top Pakistani leadership on current regional developments, Iranian news agency IRNA reported.
Zarif, upon his arrival in the capital, told IRNA that Tehran seeks stronger ties with Islamabad, and that “developing strong relations with our immediate neighbours is on the top of Iranian foreign policy”.
Qureshi and Zarif discussed bilateral ties, border security issues, and recent US-Iran tensions.
During delegation-level talks between the Pakistani and Iranian sides, Qureshi noted that regional tension is in no one’s interest.
He stated that Pakistan wants resolution of all outstanding issues through diplomatic engagement, and said that stakeholders need to demonstrate patience and tolerance.
Zarif assured Qureshi that Iran “gives value” to Islamabad’s efforts to establish peace in the region.
Both sides expressed satisfaction over the implementation of decisions made during Prime Minister Khan’s recent visit to Iran and agreed to continue co-operation on bilateral matters.
Zarif also met Prime Minister Imran where they talked about bilateral relations between Iran and Pakistan.
That meeting was also attended by Qureshi.
The Iranian foreign minister also met National Assembly Speaker Qaiser, where both stressed on the importance of promoting bilateral relations between Pakistan and Iran.
The latter insisted that joint efforts are needed to eliminate terrorism from the region, adding that friendly relations with Iran are essential for the prosperity of the people of both countries.
Earlier this week Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Dr Mohamed Faisal had said that issues between Iran and the US, plus its Arab allies, had to be resolved through dialogue.
“We believe the situation in the region is serious and needs to be addressed through dialogue by all parties. We expect all sides to show restraint, as any miscalculated move can transmute into a large-scale conflict,” he had said.
Zarif, who has visited Islamabad twice since Prime Minister Khan was elected, said he was in Islamabad with a proposal for the Pakistan government to form a connection between Chabahar and Gwadar, IRNA reported.
The Iranian foreign minister said that when he was in Chabahar, the provincial governor and administrative officials were “insisting” that Chabahar and Gwadar are two complementary ports, according to IRNA.
“We believe Chabahar and Gwadar complement each other, and we can connect Chabahar and Gwadar, and then through that, can connect Gwadar to our entire rail road system from Iran to north corridor through Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey,” Zarif said.
Zarif, while speaking to IRNA upon his arrival in Islamabad, said that the “international community has to take practical steps to stop this American aggressive approach”.
The Iranian foreign minister claimed that Washington’s bullying approach is evident through the US’s conduct with Iran and China, and warned that if the international community failed to stop the US from pursuing its policies, the “world’s control would go into the hands of those who don’t believe in laws”, IRNA reported.
He said that international and regional actors “must play a proactive role for the stability of the region”.
“Regional states have to stand against the sanctions for their own interests,” he was quoted by IRNA as saying.
Zarif was received at the airport by Iran’s ambassador to Pakistan, Mehdi Honardoost, and senior ministry of foreign affairs officials, IRNA reported.
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