Iranian FM due today for talks on crisis

Published April 8, 2015
Zarif will discuss the Yemen crises, state of bilateral ties, the cross-border terrorism and other issues.—AP/File
Zarif will discuss the Yemen crises, state of bilateral ties, the cross-border terrorism and other issues.—AP/File

ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif lands here on Wednes­day on a two-day visit amid heightened regional diplomacy over Yemen.

Mr Zarif will reach Islamabad from Oman, where he had gone for consultations on “the humanitarian plight in Yemen and regional developments”, according to the Iranian foreign ministry.

The Iranian foreign minister is leading a 22-member delegation, which inclu­des Deputy Foreign Minis­ter Ibrahim Rahimpour, DG West Asia Affairs Rasool Islami and a media adviser.

Also read: Iran, Turkey agree on the need to stop Yemen war: Rouhani

In Islamabad, besides the Yemen crisis, Mr Zarif will also discuss the state of bilateral ties, particularly the old sore spot in the relationship — the cross-border terrorism allegedly by Pakistan-based groups in the Iranian province of Sistan-Balochestan.

The killing of eight Iranian guards on Monday along the border with Pakistan has renewed Iranian concerns.

“The visit will be in the framework of strengthening bilateral relations, surveying the regional and international developments, and boosting Iran-Pakistan border security,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Marzieh Afkham said.

Mr Zarif has also requested a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, according to a Pakistani official involved in preparations for the trip.

His visit has been on the cards for a few weeks, but got delayed because of negotiations with P5+1 over the nuclear programme. Taking place against the backdrop of Yemen conflict and Pakistan’s much speculated participation in the Saudi-led military coalition, the Iranian officials say that Yemen would dominate the agenda.

Iran has been expressing its interest in working with Pakistan on ending the Yemen dispute.

“We are willing to have necessary cooperation with Pakistan in the settlement of regional issues, particularly the issue of Yemen,” Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said at a ceremony at Pakistan Embassy in Tehran on Sunday night.

The Iranian foreign minister set off for his Oman and Pakistan visit at a time when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was touring Tehran.

Though Mr Erdogan too had been invited by his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in January, the search for a diplomatic solution to the Yemen conflict overshadowed other issues on the agenda because of the timing of the tour.

Before embarking on the visit, Mr Erdogan hosted Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Interior Minister Prince Mohammad bin Nayef al-Saud on an unscheduled visit.

Talking to Iranian official news agency IRNA, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Iran Noor Mohammad Jademani expressed the hope for a peaceful settlement of the Yemen crisis and said that peace in Yemen was in the interest of the entire Muslim world.

Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2015

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