Iran willing to de-escalate, says FM Qureshi

January 18, 2020

Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he understood that the Iranians did not want to escalate things

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WASHINGTON: 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 and Afghanistan´s peace process Friday with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, five days after seeing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Talking to reporters in Washington, 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 said.

The United States on January 3 killed Iran´s most powerful general, Qasem Soleimani, in a drone strike as he visited Baghdad.

The foreign minister said that the Iranian leadership has signalled a willingness to ease tensions with its Arab neighbors.

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

"They said they are willing to engage at any level and in any format," Qureshi said.

US President Donald Trump, who is closely allied with Saudi Arabia, in 2018 withdrew from a nuclear accord with Iran and imposed sweeping sanctions aimed at reducing Tehran´s regional clout.

US officials blamed Iran for a September attack on Saudi oil installations, although the Middle Eastern powers since then have engaged in cautious diplomacy to ease friction.

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