PM Imran Khan expresses resolve to further expand ties with Iran

Published August 31, 2018
FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi receives Iran FM Javad Zarif in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. — FO
FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi receives Iran FM Javad Zarif in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. — FO

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called on Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday at the PM House with both sides underlining the need to promote bilateral relations in all areas of cooperation.

PM Khan said Pakistan and Iran were the key to growth and prosperity in the region through enhancing connectivity and promoting people to people linkages, Radio Pakistan reported.

The prime minister thanked the Iranian Supreme Leader’s support for Kashmiris struggle for self-determination. Zarif delivered a message of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, inviting the Prime Minister for the upcoming Asian Cooperation Dialogue Summit in Iran in October this year.

'Pakistan stands with Iran in this hour of need'

The Iranian foreign minister, who arrived in Islamabad on Thursday for a two-day visit, earlier held detailed talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

According to a press release issued by the Foreign Office, Zarif extended "best wishes of the Iranian leadership and the people of Iran on the election victory led by Prime Minister Imran Khan".

Welcoming the dignitary, Qureshi noted the potential for "strengthening the already strong bilateral relationship" between Pakistan and Iran.

Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and Iran, and other officials meet in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday. ─ FO
Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and Iran, and other officials meet in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday. ─ FO

Detailed discussions were also held on regional and global issues, including the situation in Afghanistan and the United States' decision to unilaterally withdraw from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — more commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal.

In May, President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Iran deal, terming it "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into". The US government had also reinstated all sanctions waived as part of the nuclear accord and imposed additional economic penalties as well.

Britain, France and Germany had urged the Trump administration not to revoke the deal, arguing that the agreement was the best way of stopping Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Pakistan's Foreign Office had also expressed concern on US's withdrawal from the deal, saying that the decision would affect the world community's efforts to solve the "conflict" with Iran.

During the talks on Friday, Qureshi "supported Iran’s principled stance" and expressed the hope that remaining parties to the Iran deal would uphold their commitments. The foreign minister, according to the press release, reiterated that Pakistan stands with Iran "in this hour of need".

Qureshi stressed that Pakistan greatly values Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s "strong and unswerving support for the just struggle of the people of Kashmir".

Zarif, meanwhile, congratulated Qureshi on "Pakistan’s strong protest against the blasphemous caricature competition had led to cancellation of the event".

Iran FM meets COAS

FM Zarif also called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), regional security situation and other matters of mutual interest were discussed.

The army's media wing said the visiting dignitary "acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan’s contributions for conflict prevention in the region".

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.

The Iranian FM's trip comes ahead of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Joseph F. Dunford's visit to Islamabad next week for talks with their counterparts.

They are also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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