Sun, 25 Aug 2019

Iranian FM Holds Talks in Pakistan on Tehran's Tensions With US

Voice of America
24 May 2019, 23:37 GMT+10

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met Friday with leaders from neighboring Pakistan to discuss bilateral matters and Tehran's escalating tensions with the United States.

Zarif and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi led their respective delegations in formal talks before the visiting Iranian diplomat went for a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. Officials said the discussions focused on bilateral issues and regional developments.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been escalating since U.S. President Donald Trump announced his decision to try to cut Iran's oil exports to zero and beef up the American military presence in the Gulf in response to what he said were Iranian threats.

After landing in Islamabad late Thursday, Zarif told Iranian media he would brief Pakistani officials on what he described as 'dangerous' developments in the region.

Officials said the Iranian foreign minister was also scheduled to meet with Pakistan military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa before wrapping up his trip Friday.

Pakistan already has said it will not take sides in the current confrontation and described the crisis in the Persian Gulf region as 'disturbing.' Islamabad says, however, Washington's decision to deploy an aircraft carrier, as well as bombers, has fueled tensions in 'the existing precarious security situation' in the Middle East.

'We expect all sides to show restraint, as any miscalculated move can transmute into a large-scale conflict,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal told a weekly news conference Thursday. 'Pakistan always supports dialogue and desires that all issues should be settled peacefully and through engagement by all sides.'

Border security

The bilateral talks were also expected to review issues related to border security, officials said.

Pakistan and Iran share a long border of more than 900 kilometers. Iranian officials regularly allege anti-state Sunni militants use hideouts on the Pakistani side to orchestrate terrorist attacks inside Iran.

For its part, Islamabad says separatist groups active in its volatile Baluchistan province use sanctuaries on the Iranian side to plan cross-border terrorist attacks.

Khan last month undertook his first official visit to Tehran and held extensive talks with President Hassan Rohani on strengthening bilateral security, economic and trade ties.

Rohani noted that Khan's visit would be 'a turning point' in improving bilateral relations.

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