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January 16, 2020

FM Qureshi arrives in US as UN holds meeting on IOK

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January 16, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi reached the United States at a time when the United Nations Security Council is seized with a closed-door meeting on Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Qureshi was tasked by Prime Minister Imran Khan to reach out to the United States, Saudi Arabia and Tehran in a bid to defuse tensions which rose after the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

Earlier, Qureshi returned to Islamabad on Tuesday after visiting Tehran, Riyadh in what the Foreign Office said was “an intensive diplomatic outreach on the ongoing Middle East situation”.

“The objective is to support efforts for de-escalation and resolution of differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means. The foreign minister’s visit to the US is part of these

endeavours,” said the spokesperson at the Foreign Office. It is China once again that has moved the special session of the UNSC after India revoked Article 370 of the Constitution removing special status to Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Earlier, France had opposed a similar proposal by China in December as any of the five members, the United States, China, Britain and France can veto such a proposal. Media reports quote French diplomats as saying that they have not changed their mind on Kashmir which should be settled bilaterally between Pakistan and India.

The UNSC is likely to receive a briefing by the UN Military Observer Group over the situation along the Line of Control, where several civilians and soldiers have been martyred due to Indian aggression.

Last August, the UNSC had held a meeting over IOK and was reminded by China that this was an issue of importance which had been ignored since 1971. The spokesman at the Foreign Office said the foreign minister during his visit to New York will meet UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.

The spokesperson at Guterres’s office said that he had been advocating dialogue between Pakistan and India to resolve outstanding problems and that any solution should take into account the human rights situation in Kashmir.

“While in Washington, the foreign minister will meet Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser Robert O’ Brien and other senior administration officials. The foreign minister will also have meetings on the Capitol Hill, besides engagements with the media, think tank community and the Pakistani Diaspora,” added the spokesperson.

In the official talks, Qureshi will focus on Pakistan’s diplomatic outreach, which has been undertaken on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan in the wake of the recent tensions in the Middle East/Gulf region.

Qureshi’s visit to Washington while reviewing full spectrum of bilateral relationship will underscore the value Pakistan attaches to a broad-based, long-term and enduring partnership with the US in line with the vision of the leaders of the two countries.

“The foreign minister will also brief his interlocutors on the prevailing situation in IOK, especially the prolonged sufferings of Kashmiris caused by India’s unilateral and illegal actions of August 05, 2019,” added the spokesperson.

Afghanistan will be another issue for discussion where the foreign minister will also highlight Pakistan’s role and continued resolve to support the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.