ISLAMABAD, Sept 3: Iran’s new chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani arrives here on Monday for important consultations with top Pakistani leadership and to solicit Islamabad’s support against possible UN Security Council sanctions that Tehran faces over its controversial nuclear programme, diplomatic sources told Dawn on Saturday.

During his two-day visit he will call on President Gen Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. He will also hold delegation-level talks with Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri at the Foreign Office on the day of his arrival here.

This will be the first high-level visit from Tehran after the new Mahmoud Ahmadinejad-led government was installed in Iran and it follows Pakistan’s first formal diplomatic contact with Israel.

Ali Larijani, who has served as the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, now holds a key position in the cabinet as the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative to the Supreme National Security Council.

He was appointed the country’s chief nuclear negotiator by the new Iranian president to replace Hasan Rohani.

Significantly, Larijani’s visit takes place ahead of a crucial IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Board of Governors meeting in Vienna on September 19 that could refer Iran’s case to the UN Security Council.

Larijani’s visit to Pakistan comes on the heels of his trip to China and India where he had apparently also gone to muster support against possible sanctions it is threatened with in the wake of a standoff with the US and the EU on the nuclear issue.

According to a Foreign Ministry official the stated purpose of Larijani’s visit is to brief the Pakistan government on the Iran-EU dialogue on its controversial nuclear programme, its cooperation with the IAEA and the policies of the new Iranian government.

Informed sources told Dawn that Pakistan’s counsel to the top nuclear Iranian negotiator would be to resume negotiations with the EU and resolve the matter in a peaceful manner.

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