Pak-Iran foreign ministers discuss Afghan peace, border security, Islamophobia

ISLAMABAD, Nov 11 (APP):Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif Wednesday discussed a gamut of bilateral and regional issues, including Afghan peace, border crossing, Islamophobia and COVID-19.

During their one-on-one meeting, followed by delegation-level talks here, the two leaders reviewed all aspects of bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and international issues, a Foreign Office statement said.

Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored the importance Pakistan attached to its relations with Iran as a “fraternal country and important neighbour”.

He condoled over the loss of precious lives in Iran due to COVID-19 and commended the Iranian government’s efforts to contain the pandemic.

The foreign minister emphasized the importance of optimally utilizing the existing bilateral mechanisms to increase cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, connectivity, security and people-to-people exchanges, and to strengthen mutual collaboration in multilateral fora. In this regard, he underlined the need for regular interactions at multiple levels.

On Afghanistan, the foreign minister underlined that peace in Afghanistan was paramount for sustainable stability and prosperity in the region. Reaffirming Pakistan’s support for Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, Qureshi highlighted the country’s positive contributions.

He added that the Intra-Afghan Negotiations offered a historic opportunity, which all sides must seize to secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.

The two sides agreed on close coordination to support efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

“On Afghanistan, the views of Iran and Pakistan are close to each other. Iran wants peace stability, and their betterment. Pakistan also wants the same. We decided that discussion on the Afghan situation will be enhanced. Our special representatives on Afghanistan are also meeting today,” Qureshi told media along with the visiting dignitary after the meeting.

During the meeting, the foreign minister apprised Dr Javad Zarif of the worsening humanitarian and human rights situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

He also highlighted India’s illegal actions to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory.

On behalf of the people of Pakistan, the foreign minister conveyed deep appreciation for the Supreme Leader’s steadfast support for the Kashmir cause.

He also thanked the Iranian leadership for supporting Pakistan at the United Nations Human Rights Council. He said Iran had also assured to support Pakistan in some future candidatures.

The two foreign ministers exchanged views on the rising Islamophobia in different parts of the world and agreed to undertake efforts to counter the negative trend.

Mentioning Javad Zarif’s fourth visit to Pakistan, the foreign minister told the media that the frequent bilateral interactions manifested deepening bilateral cooperation and consultation.

He said during the meeting the two sides also reviewed the volume of bilateral trade and ways to enhance it.

He said having met the Army Chief, the visiting dignitary was also scheduled to meet the prime minister, besides giving a lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies.

The Iranian foreign minister told the media that the two sides had “good discussion” on border cooperation like border market and opening a new border crossing between Rimdan-Gabd within a week or two.

“We are satisfied over the level of cooperation we are receiving from (government of) Pakistan and from army in securing the border. Of course we can do better, both of us,” he remarked.

He said both the sides also agreed on establishing various joint cooperation committees on border, immigration and terrorism, and appreciated Pakistan for fencing the border.

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