Iran is willing to engage in de-escalation talks with Arab neighbours, Pakistan FM tells US

Iran is willing to engage in de-escalation talks with Arab neighbours, Pakistan FM tells US
2 min read
18 January, 2020
'They don't want further bloodshed,' Pakistan's foreign minister tells his US counterpart during a trip to Washington, indicating that Iran was ready for de-escalation with regional Arab countries.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi has met with both US and Iranian officials this week [Getty]
Pakistan's foreign minister said on Friday that Iran is seeking to lower tensions in the region and is willing to hold "any level" of talks with its Arab neighbours.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss Iran and Afghanistan's peace process, five days after visiting Tehran for talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Qureshi, whose country has strong relations with Saudi Arabia, said that the Iranian leadership also signalled 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," he said

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

In-depth: A decades-long battle: The Iran-US rivalry explained

"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 minimise casualties.

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 also blame Iran for a damaging 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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