Iranian FM likely to visit Pakistan this week

Updated May 22, 2019

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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is expected to visit Islamabad later this week for consultations with the Pakistani leadership, a senior diplomatic source said on Tuesday. — AP/File
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is expected to visit Islamabad later this week for consultations with the Pakistani leadership, a senior diplomatic source said on Tuesday. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is expected to visit Islamabad later this week for consultations with the Pakistani leadership, a senior diplomatic source said on Tuesday. The visit will take place amidst Iran’s escalating tensions with the United States.

The source said FM Zarif would meet civilian and military leaders during his daylong stay in Islamabad. He said Mr Zarif would discuss the regional situation during his meetings in Islamabad in addition to bilateral matters, especially border security.

The trip will come days before the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s two-day summit in Makkah from May 30 to 31.

Saudi Arabia has, meanwhile, also scheduled an emergency summit of the Arab League. Saudi official newswire SPA said that King Salman had invited Arab League members to the meeting scheduled for May 30 to discuss the recent “aggression and their consequences”.

Saudi Arabia, it is anticipated, would push for anti-Iran resolutions at both summits.

Mr Zarif would reportedly explain Iranian perspective on the developments in the region to Pakistani leaders.

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, the Iranian foreign minister said the US was “playing a very, very dangerous game” by boosting its military presence in the region.

Read: Iran warns of 'painful consequences' if US escalates tensions

“Having all these military assets in a small area is in of itself prone to accidents,” Mr Zarif said in a reference to the deployment of US aircraft carrier and bomber task force in the Middle East.

“Extreme prudence is required and the United States is playing a very, very dangerous game,” he further said.

Mr Zarif last week travelled to Beijing as part of his outreach to regional countries, where his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi assured him that “China firmly opposes unilateral sanctions and the so-called ‘long-arm’ jurisdiction imposed by the United States on Iran”.

Although Pakistan has not taken a definitive position on the crisis and has been hinting at neutrality, Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal in his last weekly media briefing criticised the US for ratcheting up the tension.

Read: Pakistan blames US for heightening tensions with Iran

“Recent developments in the Persian Gulf region are disturbing. US decision to deploy aircraft carrier and bombers has added to the tensions and the existing precarious security situation in the Middle East,” he had said.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2019