FM Qureshi emphasises need for 'maximum restraint' during visits to Saudi, Iran

Updated 14 Jan 2020

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Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi meets his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Riyadh. — Photo: FO
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi meets his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud in Riyadh. — Photo: FO
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is seen off by an Iranian official upon his departure from Tehran. — Photo: FO
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is seen off by an Iranian official upon his departure from Tehran. — Photo: FO

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday concluded his two-day visit to Iran and Saudi Arabia during which he emphasised the importance of "maximum restraint and immediate steps for de-escalation" by all sides involved in the prevailing Middle East tensions.

The foreign minister had embarked on a two-nation visit to Tehran and Riyadh on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan after recent developments that followed the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a US airstrike.

Qureshi, who called on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif separately, had a wide-ranging exchange of views on recent developments in the region. Pakistan-Iran relations were also discussed.

The minister conveyed to the Iranian leadership that "Pakistan appreciated Iran’s preference for de-escalation of tensions and expressed the hope that Iran would continue to act with its traditional wisdom in dealing with the issues at hand," a statement issued by the Foreign Office said.

He stressed that war was in nobody’s interest and it was imperative to resolve issues through dialogue and diplomacy, it added.

Qureshi informed the Iranian leaders about his contacts with his counterparts in the region and said that there was "a general consensus in favour of immediate de-escalation and avoidance of war".

"Pakistan would not allow its territory to be used against anyone; nor would Pakistan be a part of any war or conflict in the region," the FO quoted the foreign minister as saying.

Qureshi underlined that despite the complexity of issues involved, Pakistan will continue to work for peace and urge constructive engagement among all sides.

According to the press release, the minister during his meetings also conveyed Islamabad's appreciation for Iran’s "steadfast support for Kashmiris’ right of self-determination" and for early resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

President Rouhani and Zarif stressed that Iran also preferred de-escalation of tensions and preservation of peace and stability in the region. "All sides had responsibilities in this regard," they were quoted as saying.

The Iranian leadership also appreciated Prime Minister Imran's efforts aimed at reducing tensions in the region, saying they had supported the premier's initiative in the past and welcomed the present efforts as well, according to the FO.

Qureshi reaffirmed the importance Pakistan attaches to its "close fraternal ties with Iran" and expressed the resolve to further strengthen the historic, multifaceted relationship.

Upon his departure for Riyadh, Qureshi was seen off at Tehran's Mehrabad airport by Iranian foreign ministry's assistant minister (West Asia) Mohammad Mousavi, chargé d'affaires at Pakistan's embassy in Tehran Syed Fawad Sher and other officers.

Qureshi, Saudi FM exchange views

On the second leg of his trip, Qureshi arrived in Saudi Arabia later in the day.

FM Qureshi is received by Saudi and Pakistani officials at Riyadh airport. — Photo: FO
FM Qureshi is received by Saudi and Pakistani officials at Riyadh airport. — Photo: FO

He was received upon his arrival at Riyadh airport by the Saudi foreign ministry's deputy minister of protocol, Azamul Qain, Pakistan's ambassador to the kingdom Raza Ali Ejaz and other senior officials from the Pakistan embassy.

In Riyadh, Qureshi had an "in-depth exchange of views on recent developments" with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. During the meeting, bilateral matters were also discussed.

While sharing Pakistan's perspective on the recent developments in the Middle East, the foreign minister said that the thrust of his diplomatic outreach was that Pakistan "must support all efforts aimed at avoiding conflict and resolving differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means", a second FO statement said.

Qureshi apprised the Saudi minister about his telephonic conversations with the foreign ministers of regional countries, and other diplomatic contacts, noting an "overwhelming level of support for efforts for de-escalation".

He underscored the need for all sides to "exercise maximum restraint, avoid taking any further escalatory step, work for defusing tensions, and finding ways for constructive engagement", the FO added.

The foreign minister underscored that the fraternal ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are "deep-rooted and multi-faceted" and the strategic relationship between the two countries is growing in various dimensions.

He also thanked the kingdom for its "steadfast support for the Kashmir issue" and exchanged views on deepening bilateral cooperation in economic and financial fields.

According to the FO, the Saudi foreign minister while reaffirming the resolve to deepen mutual cooperation in all fields welcomed Pakistan’s support for efforts to defuse tensions. The two sides agreed to remain engaged on issues affecting peace and security in the region and beyond.

After concluding his visit to Riyadh, Foreign Minister Qureshi travelled to Oman to condole the death of its long-serving leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said.