Pakistan FM, after visits, says Iran wants to de-escalate

Pakistan FM, after visits, says Iran wants to de-escalate

Pakistan’s foreign minister, who has shuttled between Washington and Tehran in the course of a week, voiced confidence Friday that Iran was seeking to lower tensions.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi discussed Iran and Afghanistan’s peace process Friday with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, five days after seeing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

While stopping short of saying that he was transmitting any message, Qureshi said he understood that the Iranians “did not want to escalate things.”

“They don’t want war, they don’t want further bloodshed,” Qureshi told reporters in Washington.

The United States on January 3 killed Iran’s most powerful general, Qasem Soleimani, in a drone strike as he visited Baghdad.

Iran responded with missile strikes on US forces in Iraq but Qureshi, in line with many observers, believe that the reprisal was designed to minimize casualties.

Qureshi, whose country has strong relations with Saudi Arabia, said that the Iranian leadership also signaled a willingness to ease tensions with its Arab neighbors.

The Iranians “highlighted the issues, the differences, they have had with other important countries in the region,” he said.

“They said they are willing to engage at any level and in any format,” Qureshi said.

US President Donald Trump, who is closely allied with Saudi Arabia, in 2018 withdrew from a nuclear accord with Iran and imposed sweeping sanctions aimed at reducing Tehran’s regional clout.

US officials blamed Iran for a September attack on Saudi oil installations, although the Middle Eastern powers since then have engaged in cautious diplomacy to ease friction.

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