ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif emphasised the need for a political solution to the Yemen conflict after his meeting with prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs, Sartaj Aziz, at the Foreign Office on Wednesday.
Addressing a joint press conference with Aziz, Zarif said Pakistan and Iran should cooperate to solve the crisis in Yemen.
“We need to work together to find a political solution,” Zarif said during a visit to Islamabad in which he was expected to urge Pakistan to reject the Saudi request to join a military operation against Houthi forces in Yemen.
Responding to a question, Zarif said his talks with Turkey, Oman, and now Pakistan revolved around four major lines: “ceasefire, humanitarian assistance, intra-Yemeni dialogue and broad-based government.”
“It is up to Yemen how it wants to do it. We can only facilitate as countries in the region… but these are the four lines on which my [Iran’s] government has been operating,” said the Iranian foreign minister.
“The people of Yemen should not have to face aerial bombardment,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Sartaj Aziz said a ceasefire alone will not be a solution to the problem in Yemen. “A more comprehensive resolution on facilitating an intra-Yemeni dialogue, which is also approved by the United Nations, can help in finding a political settlement to this tragic situation,” said Aziz.
Zarif arrived in Pakistan for a two-day visit earlier in the day amid heightened regional diplomacy over Yemen. Soon after arrival, Zarif met adviser to the PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and shared details of the Iran-Turkey talks held in Tehran yesterday.
The Iranian foreign minister is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday.
Zarif reached 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.
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.
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.
Iranian border guards fire mortar shells
Iranian border guards reportedly fired three mortar shells in Pakistani territory close to the porous border between the two neighbours.
A security official requesting anonymity told DawnNews that three mortar shells fired by Iranian border guards on Wednesday afternoon landed in Zaamran area of district Kech. A sense of panic prevailed in the area following the attack. Fortunately, no human loss was reported.
Frontier Crops and Levies personnel reached the area and started investigation into the incident. Security was tightened at the border following the attack.
Meanwhile, Pakistani and Iranian officials met at the border to discuss ways and means to avoid occurrence of any untoward incident in future. Senior officers of both countries decided to increase security at the porous border to ensure legal movement and peace at the border.
Deputy Commissioner Kech and senior officers of law enforcement agencies participated in the meeting with their Iranian counterparts.