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Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif disembarks from his plane at Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi on Thursday. During his two-day visit, Mr Zarif will be holding meetings with his Pakistani counterpart and other government leaders.—AFP
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif disembarks from his plane at Nur Khan airbase in Rawalpindi on Thursday. During his two-day visit, Mr Zarif will be holding meetings with his Pakistani counterpart and other government leaders.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif landed here on Thursday on a two-day trip to engage with the new government.

“Iranian FM Javad Zarif arrives in Pakistan, the first foreign dignitary to visit Pakistan since the new government took over,” Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said.

FM Zarif had earlier in a telephonic conversation with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi had indicated his desire to meet the new leadership.

During his stay in Islamabad, the Iranian foreign minister, besides meeting Mr Qureshi, is likely to call on other leaders of the new administration. Iran has been warming up to Pakistan after remaining lukewarm for decades and potentially sees its neighbour as part of the emerging regional bloc that could include Russia and China. Iran this year celebrated Pakistan’s Independence Day in an unprecedented manner displaying large greeting hoardings along major highways in Iranian cities.

Iranian leadership has also hinted that it’s ready to positively re-engage with Pakistan on the gas pipeline project. They had earlier suggested that they could go for arbitration because Pakistan did not fulfil its part of the agreement.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani exp­r­essed Tehran’s readiness to exp­and ties and cooperation with Islamabad.

“Pakistan shares a long border with Iran and wants peaceful relations with it,” Dr Faisal said. He rejected the impression that Pakistan considered Chahbahar as a rival port. He said Chabahar and Gwadar were both complementary projects.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2018