Zarif Meets Imran Khan, Invites Him To Iran

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ISLAMABAD — Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iran Javad Zarif on Friday called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and conveyed to him the greetings and best wishes of the people and leadership of Iran on assuming the office.

Zarif said that Iran wished continued progress and prosperity to the people of Pakistan.

He delivered a message of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and invited the prime minister for the upcoming Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Summit in Iran, in October 2018.

Both Pakistan and Iran are members of the organization. Iran currently holds the chair of the organization.

Welcoming the foreign minister, Imran Khan thanked the Iranian supreme leader’s support for Kashmiri’s struggle for self-determination as well as for the manner in which Pakistan Independence Day was celebrated in Iran.

He thanked the foreign minister for the sincere wishes.

Recalling his recent telephonic conversation with president Rouhani, Khan said that Pakistan and Iran were connected by inseparable bonds of historic, religious and cultural affinities.

He said that during his tenure, Pakistan would make all efforts to cement relations with Iran in various areas to the benefit of both countries. He also emphasized on restoring complete peace and stability in the region.

“As land bridges between economically resource-rich regions, together with other regional partners, Pakistan and Iran remained the key to growth and prosperity in the region through enhancing connectivity and promoting people to people linkages,” he said.

Referring to cancellation of blasphemous Dutch caricatures competition following the government of Pakistan’s strong condemnation and protest recently, the prime minister underlined the need for the Muslim countries to confront Islamophobia with one voice.

The love and respect of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), is part of every Muslim’s faith and no one could be allowed to disrespect it, he said.

‘Pakistan stands with Iran in this hour of need’

The Iranian foreign minister, who arrived in Islamabad on Thursday for a two-day visit, earlier held detailed talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

According to a press release issued by the Foreign Office, Zarif extended “best wishes of the Iranian leadership and the people of Iran on the election victory led by Prime Minister Imran Khan”.

Welcoming the dignitary, Qureshi noted the potential for “strengthening the already strong bilateral relationship” between Pakistan and Iran.

Detailed discussions were also held on regional and global issues, including the situation in Afghanistan and the United States’ decision to unilaterally withdraw from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — more commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal.

During the talks on Friday, Qureshi “supported Iran’s principled stance” and expressed the hope that remaining parties to the Iran deal would uphold their commitments. The foreign minister, according to the press release, reiterated that Pakistan stands with Iran “in this hour of need”.

Qureshi stressed that Pakistan greatly values Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “strong and unswerving support for the just struggle of the people of Kashmir”.

Zarif, meanwhile, congratulated Qureshi on “Pakistan’s strong protest against the blasphemous caricature competition had led to cancellation of the event”.

Iran FM meets COAS

FM Zarif also called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), regional security situation and other matters of mutual interest were discussed.

The army’s media wing said the visiting dignitary “acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan’s contributions for conflict prevention in the region”.

Iran has been warming up to Pakistan after remaining lukewarm for decades and potentially sees its neighbour as part of the emerging regional bloc that could include Russia and China. Iran this year celebrated Pakistan’s Independence Day in an unprecedented manner, displaying large greeting hoardings along major highways in Iranian cities.

The Iranian FM’s trip comes ahead of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Joseph F. Dunford’s visit to Islamabad next week for talks with their counterparts.

They are also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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