WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has emphasised the need for de-escalation and dialogue to reduce tensions in the Middle East as he ended the final leg of his tri-state tour on Saturday.
Qureshi has spent the week touring Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US on a diplomatic mission meant to defuse tensions between Washington and Tehran, on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Tensions between Iran and the US have soared after the latter killed Iranian Gen Qassem Soleimani in a drone attack in Baghdad. Iran retaliated by a missile strike on a US military base in Iraq, in which 11 people were injured.
During a meeting with United States National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien at the White House on Friday, Qureshi conveyed Pakistan’s concern that instability in the Middle East would affect the neighbourhood and the global economy.
“He underscored Pakistan’s willingness to play its role for peace in the region,” a statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO) stated.
The two discussed a range of issues, including the situation in the Middle East, human rights violations by the Indian authorities in occupied Kashmir, peace talks between the US government and Afghan Taliban. Bilateral relations between US and Pakistan were also discussed.
Qureshi reminded O’Brien of President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate between India and Pakistan to solve the Kashmir dispute which was made during Prime Minister Imran’s visit to the US last year. The foreign minister told the national security adviser about the human rights violations being committed in occupied Kashmir by the Indian authorities, following New Delhi’s decision to strip the region of its special status in August last year.
The foreign minister insisted that the Kashmiris should be given the right to self-determination in accordance with United Nations resolutions.
Qureshi also recalled President Trump and Prime Minister Imran’s “shared vision for a broad-based and enduring partnership” between US and Pakistan and said that bilateral trade and economic ties would help to strengthen relations between the two countries.
He also reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for talks between Afghan Taliban and US in order to establish peace in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Asad Majeed and other officials of the Pakistani embassy saw Qureshi off on his departure.
During his visit, he held meetings with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the President of the UN General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande in New York, where he conveyed Pakistan’s reservations over the situation in occupied Kashmir. The meetings came soon after the UN Security Council held a meeting on the Kashmir dispute on China’s request.
Qureshi also met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as US Under Secretary of Defense John Rood and members of the US Senate including Lindsey Graham, Chris Murphy and Mitt Romney among others in Washington.
He also spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies about “reframing the strategic Pakistan-US relationship”.