Zarif holds talks with dignitaries in Pakistan

November 12, 2020 - 0:31

TEHRAN – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited Islamabad on Tuesday night to discuss regional issues, the Muslim world, international affairs, and the promotion of bilateral relations, according to the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

Upon his arrival in the Pakistani capital, the chief Iranian diplomat was welcomed by Pakistani Foreign Ministry officials. He was accompanied by a high-ranking political, economic, and military delegation.

On Wednesday, the foreign minister met with Chief of Pakistan’s Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Zarif and Bajwa expressed satisfaction with the political, military, and regional cooperation between the two countries, emphasizing the expansion of relations in all dimensions.

During the meeting, Zarif pointed to the good military cooperation between the two countries and praised the measures taken to strengthen border security, while opening new border crossings between the two countries, and announced that the Islamic Republic of Iran will open the Rimdan crossing in Sistan-Baluchistan province next week.

The foreign minister expressed hope that the Gabd crossing would be opened by the Pakistani side and that other crossings, including the Pishin-Mand crossing, would be opened to expand public and trade relations between the two countries.

For his part, General Bajwa stressed the importance of political and military cooperation between the two countries, underlining the need to expand cooperation in all fields and supporting the Pakistani government's decision to open a border market and various crossings, including the Rimdan-Gabad and Pishin-Mand crossings.

General Bajwa also pointed out that the expansion of Iran-Pakistan ties is important and would have a positive impact on peace and stability in the region.

Pakistan’s army issued a statement after the meeting between Zarif and Bajwa saying that the two officials discussed several issues such as the security situation in the region, including the Afghanistan peace process, and the situation in Iran-Pakistan joint borders.  

Zarif also met with his Pakistani counterpart on Wednesday. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a tweet that Qureshi “warmly received” Zarif on Wednesday before the latter planted a sapling at the lawn of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  The spokesperson also said the two top diplomats held a one-on-one and delegation-level meeting to discuss “increased bilateral cooperation in various areas of mutual interest.”

This is the fourth visit by the Iranian foreign minister to Pakistan during the last two and a half years, which reflects the promotion of bilateral cooperation between the two countries in diverse fields, according to the Pakistani newspaper The Nation. The Pakistani media have generally welcomed Zarif’s visit, describing it as coming at an important juncture particularly against the backdrop of a host of developments, such as the election of Joe Biden in the United States, the resumption of economic projects between Tehran and Islamabad, and Pakistan’s apparent hiccup in ties with Saudi Arabia.

“The election of Joe Biden as the U.S. president might bring new changes to the region as he wants to revive the Iranian nuclear deal, which former president Trump scrapped after coming to power. The revival of Iranian nuclear deal will help Pakistan pursue some of the economic projects, including Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline that was halted due to the threat of U.S. economic sanctions. The visit is also important against the backdrop of Pakistan’s apparent hiccup in ties with Saudi Arabia, which wanted Islamabad to maintain distance from countries such as Iran, Turkey and Malaysia,” said the Pakistani newspaper Express Tribune.


Zarif thanks Pakistan for backing Iran’s bid to join SCO
In a separate meeting with Prime Minister Khan, Zarif thanked Pakistan for supporting Iran’s bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Zarif and Khan also exchanged views about international and regional developments, especially issues related to Afghanistan and the broader Islamic world.

The Pakistani leader said his country is interested to develop economic and political ties with Iran. The two sides also expressed hope to strengthen ties between the two neighboring countries.

Iran’s chief diplomat also praised the Pakistani prime minister’s stance on the issue of normalizing ties with the Zionist regime of Israel.
Prime Minister Khan said in September that normalization with Israel is "pointless".

MP hails Zarif’s visit to Pakistan as ‘fruitful’

Fadahossein Maleki, a member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, has welcomed the visit by Zarif to neighboring Pakistan.

“The visit by our foreign minister to Pakistan is important for the two countries because we have good relations in terms of politics, security, border issues, trade, and economy. Besides, our commonalities as two major countries in the region are very important,” the lawmaker told the Islamic Consultative Assembly News Agency (ICANA) on Monday.

He added, “As the relationship between Iran and Pakistan becomes stronger, in addition to improving the economic situation of the two countries, the possibility of confronting the evil of many terrorist groups and foreigners increases. Unfortunately, in the eastern border regions of the Islamic Republic of Iran and eastern provinces such as Sistan-Baluchestan, we usually see the sabotage of terrorist groups, and this has placed a heavy burden on the Pakistanis.”

Speaking at a weekly press briefing on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, “Tomorrow, the foreign minister will travel to Islamabad for a two-day visit at the invitation of his Pakistani counterpart at the head of a political and economic delegation.”

Zarif had just concluded a regional tour of three Latin American countries.

Zarif said on Tuesday that he will be holding top-level talks with the Pakistani leadership during his visit.

“Top-level talks on bilateral & regional issues with brothers FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Army Chief Gen. Bajwa & PM Imran Khan tomorrow in Pakistan. Visit follows Iqbal Day, celebrating great Islamic scholar, international poet & tireless promoter of Muslim unity who ties together our two nations,” Zarif said in a tweet.

Maleki said Prime Minister Imran Khan favors a good relationship with Iran.

“Mr. Imran Khan, as the prime minister of Pakistan, has a good relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran. He has recently visited the Islamic Republic of Iran, so the atmosphere of relations between the two countries is suitable, but it should be strengthened,” said the lawmaker, calling Zarif’s visit to Pakistan a positive move.

Maleki noted, “This visit will have effective results, given the latest developments in the region and the weakened position of the Americans in the region.”

The lawmaker also pointed to the security situation in Iran’s border areas with Pakistan.

“The Pakistanis do not have the necessary sovereignty in the provinces adjacent to Iran, so we have previously suggested that the two countries' security forces intervene instead of governments focusing on border security because Pakistan's structure is such that it is a security-oriented organization. Mr. Zarif should speak about these issues and trade and economic relations between the two countries from a more serious position,” stated Maleki, Iran’s former ambassador to Afghanistan.

The lawmaker also pointed to Pakistan’s concerns about the presence of Indians in Iran.

“The Pakistanis are very concerned about the presence of Indians in the region, which will be resolved by increasing their ties with Iran,” pointed out Maleki, the representative of Zahedn - capital of the border province of Sistan-Baluchistan - in the parliament.

SM/PA

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