TEHRAN (Iran News) – Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi met on Thursday with high-ranking Iranian officials to mainly discuss the mayhem in Afghanistan after the Taliban took over Kabul on August 16.
Qureshi arrived in Tehran on Thursday after visiting Turkmenistan. In Tehran, the top Pakistani diplomat met with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Iranian President Ayatollah Seyed Ebrahim Raisi.
Speaking in a meeting with Qureshi, Ayatollah Raisi called the relations between Tehran and Islamabad long-standing, based on common beliefs and people-centered.
The president also said, “Economic and trade relations between the two countries are not satisfactory and we must increase the level of such relations in the interests of our nations with proper planning,” according to a statement by the Iranian presidency.
“Strengthening bilateral relations can pave the way for the development and strengthening of regional and international cooperation between Iran and Pakistan,” the president pointed out.
He called the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan a turning point for the interaction of all Afghan groups for peace, security and stability in Afghanistan and said, “Certainly, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and the region does not provide security, and countries should help different groups in Afghanistan to form an inclusive and participatory government.”
Rejecting any approach based on guardianship of Afghanistan, Ayatollah Raisi said, “Guardianship of Afghanistan is a failed model for the United States and does not have the capacity to create lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
He stressed, “The role of other countries, including neighbors, should only be a facilitator to the establishment of an inclusive and participatory government with the presence of all Afghan groups.”
Emphasizing that the Islamic Republic of Iran wants regional cooperation without foreign interference, Ayatollah Raisi said, “The presence of the United States and foreigners in the region does not contribute to security, but it is also making problems, and countries in the region, especially Iran and Pakistan, can work together to provide the ground for ethnic and active groups in Afghanistan to create security and peace in the country so that they can decide for their own destiny.”
Pointing out that the policy of Iran has been to support the people of Afghanistan for the past four decades, the president said, “Iran hosts about 4 million people of Afghanistan and has always been, and will continue to support the Afghan people.”
Shah Mahmood Qureshi, for his part, described the Iran-Pakistan relations as historic and deep, and referred to the common positions of the two countries on many regional and international issues, saying, “Pakistan seeks to deepen and strengthen relations between the two countries in various economic, political and regional fields, and we are determined to further improve the level of our relations.”
The Pakistani foreign minister further stressed the importance of cooperation and coordination between Tehran and Islamabad for the establishment of lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is a major player in regional developments, so we believe that by working together we can establish and strengthen peace and stability in the region, especially in Afghanistan, and have positive and beneficial cooperation.”
Foreign Minister Qureshi also said the Iranian people have maintained their dignity in the face of sanctions, adding, “The relations between the people of Pakistan and Iran are not stereotyped and official, but heartfelt, and we look forward to warmly welcoming the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Pakistan.”
The Pakistani foreign minister also met with his newly-appointed Iranian counterpart. Amir-Abdollahian has, in his first meeting as Iran’s foreign minister, sat down with his Qureshi for talks over the latest developments in bilateral and regional issues.
During their discussions, the two top diplomats emphasized the need for the enhancement of bilateral ties on political and economic fronts, according to a statement by the Iranian foreign ministry.
They also exchanged views on the positive steps taken in recent months with regards to the promotion of Tehran-Islamabad economic relations, particularly the establishment of two new border posts and holding of a joint economic commission as well as a joint trade committee meeting in the near future.
In the meeting, the Iranian foreign minister underscored the need to remove infrastructural obstacles to the promotion of bilateral ties, resolve the existing problems at border crossings, namely facilitate the traveling of trucks through Iran-Pakistan border posts, and further enhance mutual economic relations given the fact that the two countries’ economies complement each other.
He also underlined Iran’s preparedness to meet Pakistan’s energy needs, especially in the domains of natural gas, electricity, and industrial products.
He further touched upon Iran’s economic needs which could be met by Pakistani products.
The top Pakistani diplomat, in turn, expounded on his negotiations with officials of three Central Asian countries as well as on the latest situation in Afghanistan.
Also on the agenda of the talks was Tehran and Pakistan’s support for peace and stability in Afghanistan and the establishment of a broad-based government in that country with the presence of all ethnic groups.
Iran welcomes proposal to host foreign ministers from countries bordering Afghanistan
Meanwhile, the Iranian foreign minister embraced his opposite number’s proposal to hold a foreign ministerial meeting of six neighboring countries, announcing Tehran’s readiness to host that meeting in the coming days.
Following his meeting with Qureshi, Amir-Abdollahian underlined that the Afghanistan issue was high on his agenda of talks with the Pakistani foreign minister.
“Pleased to host Pakistan FM, my brother @SMQureshiPTI in my first day as foreign minister. Bilateral ties & regional issues, including the delicate situation in Afghanistan, were on the agenda,” the Iranian foreign minister said on Twitter.
Qureshi, in turn, also tweeted about his meetings in Iran. “Pleased to meet FM @Amirabdolahian in Tehran and shared congratulations on assumption of office. Had extensive discussions on regional security & a coordinated approach for Afghanistan, to work towards security, stability & an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan,” Qureshi said on Twitter.
He added, “Peace in Afghanistan will ensure greater economic integration progress and connectivity. Invited FM @Amirabdolahian to visit Pakistan to build on Pakistan – Iran strong bilateral relations.”
New Iranian president invited to visit Islamabad
The Pakistani foreign minister also said that he, on behalf of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, invited Ayatollah Raisi to pay a visit to Pakistan.
“Privileged to meet President Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi in #Iran. Conveyed warmth of our leadership & shared PM @ImranKhanPTI’s invitation to visit Pakistan. I also discussed Pakistan’s outlook for a coordinated approach between all neighbors of Afghanistan for peace and prosperity,” he tweeted.
Earlier on Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Qureshi’s visit would take place at the request of the Pakistani foreign minister on Thursday and would focus on bilateral issues and Afghanistan.
“Iran, as a country that has made efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan, is consulting, and God willing, this trip will be in line with the continuation of friendly relations,” the spokesman added.
The visit was part of a regional tour by Qureshi that included a visit to Afghanistan’s neighbors. Ahead of his visit to Tehran, the Pakistanis foreign minister stressed the importance of the position of players in the region such as Tehran for consensus aimed at helping to establish lasting peace in Afghanistan, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.
“Peace in Afghanistan is inevitable for its neighbors and neighboring countries,” Shah Mahmoud Qureshi said on Monday, ahead of a trip to Central Asia and Iran.
He added, “Islamabad seeks a regional consensus for Afghanistan and emphasizes the role of its neighbors in contributing to peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
Referring to his plans to visit Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, Qureshi said, “We want the participation of all domestic groups in Afghanistan to form a national and inclusive government.”
He denied that he paid a visit to Kabul, suggesting that allegation of such a visit came from media outlets in the Indian subcontinent.
“As Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors, we must consider the efforts of the opposing parties and the enemies of peace, because the saboteurs are still trying to sabotage,” the top Pakistani diplomat noted.