FM Qureshi to visit Saudi Arabia today in bid to defuse Middle East tensions

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will visit Saudi Arabia on Monday on the second leg of his trip being undertaken on the directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan with a view to supporting efforts for defusing tensions and promoting a diplomatic way forward.

Earlier the foreign minister visited Iran on January 12-13 on the first leg of his visit, and wherein he met the Iranian President Dr Hassan Rouhani and also had a separate meeting with his Iranian Counterpart Dr Javad Zarif.

In these meetings, there was a wide-ranging exchange of views on recent developments in the Middle East/Gulf region. Pakistan-Iran relations were also discussed.

The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi reaffirmed the importance Pakistan attached to its close fraternal ties with Iran and reiterated the resolve to further strengthen the historic, multifaceted relationship between the two Countries.

Sharing Pakistan’s perspective in detail on the recent developments, the foreign minister emphasised the importance of maximum restraint and immediate steps for de-escalation by all sides. He said that war was in nobody’s interest and it was imperative to resolve the issues through dialogue and diplomacy.

The foreign Minister informed the Iranian leadership about his telephonic conversations with his counterparts in the region and said that there was a general consensus in favour of immediate de-escalation and avoidance of war.

Qureshi reiterated that 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. He reaffirmed that Pakistan could only be a partner for peace.

The foreign minister said 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.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi underlined that despite the complexity of issues involved, Pakistan would continue to work for peace as this was in the collective interest of the region and the world. In this context, Pakistan would also continue to urge constructive engagement among all sides to preserve the peace and advance the prospects of a diplomatic solution.

The foreign minister conveyed Pakistan’s appreciation for Iran’s steadfast support for Kashmiris’ right of self-determination and for early resolution of the issue in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

The Iranian President Dr Hassan Rouhani and the Foreign Minister Javad Zarif expressed appreciation for Qureshi’s visit and stressed the importance Iran attached to its brotherly relations with Pakistan. They noted that the key feature of this people-centric relationship was that both countries stood by each other in times of need.

In the context of the current situation, they 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.

The Iranian leadership appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan’s efforts aimed at reducing tensions and advancing the prospects of peace through facilitation of diplomatic and political means. They said that Iran had supported the Prime Minister’s initiative in the past and welcomed the present efforts as well.

Earlier, the Foreign Minister Qureshi visited the City of Mashhad and paid obeisance at the holy shrine of Hazrat Imam Raza (AS).