News ID: 264506
Published: 1149 GMT January 18, 2020

Pakistani FM says Iran aims to de-escalate tensions

Pakistani FM says Iran aims to de-escalate tensions

Pakistan's foreign minister, who has shuttled between Washington and Tehran in the course of a week, voiced confidence Friday that Iran was seeking to lower tensions.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi discussed Iran as well as Afghanistan's peace process Friday with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, five days after seeing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, AFP reported.

While stopping short of saying that he was transmitting any message, Qureshi said he understood that the Iranians "did not want to escalate things."

"They don't want war, they don't want further bloodshed," Qureshi told reporters in Washington.

The United States on January 3 assassinated Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike as he visited Baghdad. The strikes also led to the martyrdom of some others, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Popular Mobilization Units’ (PMU) second-in-command.

In retaliation, Iran fired volleys of ballistic missiles on January 8 on American targets at the Ain al-Assad air base in the western Iraqi province of Anbar. Iran's missiles also targeted a base in Arbil, housing both American and other foreign troops deployed in a US-led coalition.

Qureshi, whose country has strong relations with Saudi Arabia, said Iranian authorities also signaled a willingness to ease tensions in the region.

The Iranians "highlighted the issues, the differences, they have had with other important countries in the region," he said.

On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the Islamic Republic is ready to hold talks with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf countries to promote regional security.

"We are ready for negotiations with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf littoral states and we are ready to give proposals regarding security in this region, particularly the Strait of Hormuz," Zarif said in an address to a meeting held in the Indian city of Mumbai on Friday in coordination with All India Association of Industries (AIAI).

He added that Iran has also presented proposals on ways to establish peace in the Strait of Hormuz.

US President Donald Trump, who is closely allied with Saudi Arabia, in 2018 withdrew from a nuclear accord with Iran and reimposed sanctions aimed to cripple the Iranian economy.

The United States had also blamed Iran for a September attack on Saudi oil facilities despite statements by Yemeni resistance that described the attack as retaliation for Saudi-led onslaught on their country.

Iran adamantly rejected allegations of involvement and said the attack was a legitimate act of self-defense by Yemen, which has been under strikes by the Saudi-led coalition since 2015.

However, according to AFP, the two Middle Eastern powers since then have engaged in cautious diplomacy to ease friction.


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