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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan receives Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Friday.
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan receives Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Friday.

ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said on Friday Pakis­tan was convinced that the pressure being exerted on Iran by the United States was unjustified.

Mr Zarif, who was on a two-day visit to Pakistan for consultation with Pakistani leaders on the escalation in tensions between his country and the US and its Arab allies, in an interview with Iranian newswire IRNA, after his meetings, said he was happy that “Pakistan understands our position … and considers US pressure on Iran as unjustified.”

The Iranian foreign minister, who was on his 10th visit to Pakistan since assuming office six years ago, met Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa. In his talks, Mr Zarif shared Iranian perspective on evolving crisis in the Persian Gulf, where the US has deployed a naval aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers at an airbase in Qatar and F-15 jets and is planning to station thousands of soldiers in the region, in addition to issues on the bilateral agenda, particularly border security.

After meeting PM and COAS, Zarif says Islamabad considers US pressure on Iran as unjustified

Mr Zarif’s reading of Pakistani position is consistent with what the Foreign Office spokesman had said at an earlier media briefing. “The US decision to deploy aircraft carrier and bombers has added to the tensions and the existing precarious security situation in the Middle East,” the spokesman had said.

The Iranian foreign minister described his discussions with Pakistani leaders as “useful” and “constructive”. He found that his Pakistani hosts shared his views on the destabilising role of “imperialist forces”.

The two sides discussed how regional countries could cooperate to counter American hegemonic policies towards Muslim countries, he said.

Mr Zarif said economic sanctions against Iran were “economic terrorism”.

On border security, he urged cooperation against terrorism and groups active in the border regions. The terrorist groups, he stressed, enjoyed external support. He said Pakistan had promised to take all steps for the recovery of the remaining kidnapped Iranian guards. Pakistan had earlier recovered most of the guards who had been kidnapped last October, but two of them still remain in abductors’ captivity.

Mr Zarif believed Iran and Pakistan could enhance border cooperation through implementation of their agreements.

The two sides discussed ways to expand bilateral ties in different areas, particularly energy sector and regional issues.

The visiting Iranian foreign minister said in his meetings with Pakistani leaders, he also discussed cooperation among Muslim states, the US and “Zionist aggression” against innocent Palestinians, especially the “deal of century”.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, during a meeting with his Iranian counterpart at Foreign Office, said tensions in the region were not in anyone’s interest and Pakistan would try to lower tensions in the region and maintain peace and stability.

Mr Qureshi called for resolution of outstanding issues through dialogue and urged all sides to exercise restraint.

Both Prime Minister Imran Khan and FM Qureshi in their meetings with Mr Zarif called for resolving the issues within the framework of international law and through diplomatic engagement.

GHQ: Mr Zarif visited the GHQ for a meeting with Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa who said on this occasion, “War is not in anyone’s interest and all sides need to make efforts to keep conflict away from the region”.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2019