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October 14, 2019

Gulf situation requires avoidance of conflict: Imran

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October 14, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Sunday the current situation in the Gulf region required avoidance of military conflict and constructive engagement of all parties, as he reiterated Pakistan’s willingness to act as a facilitator between Iran and Saudi Arabia to sort out their differences.

During his meetings with the Iranian leadership in Tehran, the Prime Minister conveyed Islamabad’s readiness to extend full facilitation of efforts for de-escalation of tensions and resolution of differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means, said a PM Office statement rounding up the Prime Minister’s engagements in the Iranian capital.

The Prime Minister, who visited Tehran as part of his initiative to promote peace and security in the Gulf, was accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Special Assistant to PM Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari and senior officials.

During his meeting with President Hassan Rouhani, the Prime Minister highlighted the historic ties and the tradition of close cooperation between the two countries. He reiterated his commitment to further strengthen bilateral relations in diverse areas, with a particular focus on enhanced trade and economic cooperation. Close cooperative ties with Iran had always been a priority for Pakistan, the Prime Minister remarked.

Khan, who also addressed a joint press stakeout with President Rouhani, said in the past, Pakistan had hosted Saudi Arabia and Iran and it was again willing to facilitate the brotherly countries to iron out their differences.

“The issue is complex one but it is possible to sort out differences through dialogue,” he emphasised. Khan explained that his trip to Iran would be followed by a visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday which was solely ‘Pakistan’s initiative’ as they were not asked by anyone to undertake such a trip. He however made it clear Pakistan’s role would be a facilitator and not a mediator.

The Prime Minister stressed it was imperative for everyone not to allow any conflict to take place in the region as he viewed certain vested interests which wanted to flare up the tensions in the region.

The Prime Minister termed his consultations with the Iranian president very encouraging, and said he would go to Saudi Arabia with a positive mind. He said Pakistan had deep rooted bilateral brotherly ties with Iran, and Saudi Arabia was Pakistan’s closest friend as it had always helped them when they were in need. So for those reason, he said, nobody wanted a conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The issue was recognised as a complex one, but he felt it could be resolved through dialogue as he expressed his optimism. The Prime Minister said a conflict between the two countries would not just affect the whole region but also impact the developing countries as it would increase poverty in the world as the cost of oil would shoot up and purchase of expensive oil could lead to further spending.

He said all the developing countries had the same point of view, only the vested interests wanted that conflict to take place.Khan said during his visit to New York, US President Donald Trump spoke to him and asked him to facilitate dialogue with Iran. Expressing his resolve, the Prime Minister assured the Iranian leadership they would do whatever they could to facilitate US-Iran dialogue, so that the sanctions could be lifted and agreement over the nuclear deal be signed.

Khan expressed gratitude over Iran’s support on the Kashmir issue as the lockdown of over eight million people in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir continued for last 68 days.He apprised President Rouhani of the dire human rights and humanitarian situation created since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of August 5 and the serious risk posed to peace and security in the region.

President Rouhani said they openly welcomed the goodwill gesture by Pakistan and were ready to assist it in its efforts for peace and stability in the region. Appreciating the Prime Minister’s initiative, he said his visit would have benefits, adding they discussed a variety of issues significant for the region and the whole globe. He said they discussed the recent developments in the Gulf and emphasised on strengthening of peace and stability in the region. “We also emphasised that goodwill gesture would be responded with goodwill gesture and words,” he added.

Rouhani noted emphasis on termination of war in Yemen and humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen would bring peace and stability in the region, adding the issue could be resolved through political dialogue. The Iranian president decried the pressing sanctions by the US. He demanded of Washington to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, so that it could be implemented. He also demanded immediate lifting of the US sanctions. In May last year, President Trump had announced US withdrawal from the JCPOA followed by imposition of sanctions.

In his meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the Prime Minister conveyed that the people of Pakistan deeply valued the personal commitment of the supreme leader to the cause of Kashmir.

He reaffirmed his resolve to comprehensively upgrade Pakistan-Iran relations and apprised the supreme leader of his initiative for regional peace and security.The Prime Minister’s wide-ranging talks with the Iranian leadership were held in an atmosphere of cordiality and understanding, with the Iranian side appreciating Pakistan’s sincere efforts for the preservation of peace and security in the region. The overall exchange of views was constructive and encouraging. Both sides agreed to stay engaged and consult closely to take the process forward.

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