Qureshi talks to regional peers to fight virus together

Updated March 23, 2020


Foreign ministers of Iran, Sri Lanka and Nepal discuss coronavirus pandemic with foreign minister. — FO/File
Foreign ministers of Iran, Sri Lanka and Nepal discuss coronavirus pandemic with foreign minister. — FO/File

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Sunday spoke to his counterparts in three countries of the region, including Iran, over the telephone and discussed the prevailing situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak and avenues to fight the pandemic.

According to separate press releases issued by the Foreign Office, Mr Qureshi talked to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Sri Lanka’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Dinesh Gunawardena and Nepal’s Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday through his official Twitter account once again appealed to the US to lift sanctions on Iran on humanitarian grounds.

“I want to appeal to (US) President Trump on humanitarian grounds to lift sanctions against Iran till the Covid-19 pandemic is over. The people of Iran are facing untold sufferings as sanctions are crippling Iran’s efforts to fight Covid-19. Humanity must unite to fight this pandemic,” the prime minister tweeted.

During his telephonic conversation with the Iranian foreign minister, Mr Qureshi conveyed his sorrow over the tragic loss of lives in Iran in the ongoing pandemic. Mr Qureshi commended the government and people of Iran for “valiantly combating the Covid-19 global pandemic”.

He underscored that the pandemic was one of the greatest challenges to confront humanity in a century and successfully overcoming it necessitated both compassion and innovation.

Mr Zarif appreciated Pakis­­tan’s reaffirmation solidarity and call to lift sanctions on Iran.

During his telephonic conversations with his Sri Lankan and Nepalese counterparts, Mr Qureshi reaffirmed the abiding commitment to the Saarc process and reiterated Pakistan’s readiness to host the Saarc health ministers’ conference to enhance cooperation among member countries and development partners in the health sector particularly focusing on Covid-19. He said a video conference could also be organised first in view of the prevailing global health emergency.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2020