In bid to defuse tensions, Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi to visit Iran, Saudi Arabia

AFP Islamabad, Pakistan Jan 14, 2020, 10.48 PM(IST)

File photo of Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Photograph:( AFP )

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For decades Pakistan has tried to balance its strong relationship with Saudi Arabia and ties with Iran, with whom it shares a near 1,000-kilometre (625-mile) border.

Pakistan's foreign minister is visiting Tehran on Sunday in a bid to defuse rising tensions in the region after the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike.

For decades Pakistan has tried to balance its strong relationship with Saudi Arabia and ties with Iran, with whom it shares a near 1,000-kilometre (625-mile) border.

Sunday's visit comes as tensions mount across the Middle East following the 62-year-old general's death in Iraq, and Iran's admission that it shot down an airliner by mistake, killing 176 people on board.

"Recent developments seriously endanger peace and security in an already volatile region and underscore the need for immediate and collective efforts for a peaceful resolution," Pakistan's foreign office said in a statement.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi will convey to Iran "Pakistan's readiness to support all efforts that facilitate the resolution of differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means", it said.

After meeting his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, Qureshi will visit Saudi Arabia on January 13 to hold talks with Saudi foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan.

The minister will also visit the US after concluding his visit to Tehran and Riyadh, a source in Pakistan's foreign office confirmed.

Last year Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan travelled between Saudi Arabia and Iran in a bid to calm relations between the rivals.

Pakistan has good relations with Saudi Arabia, with more than 2.5 million of its nationals living and working in the kingdom, but it also maintains close ties with Iran and represents Tehran's consular interests in the United States.