Qureshi urges maximum restraint to solve Iran-US crisis

All sides have responsibilities towards this, the Iranian leaders were quoted as saying by the Foreign Office

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. (AFP Photo)

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has called for "maximum restraint" and emphasised on talks to resolve the latest flare-up in the Iran-US relations during his meetings with the top Iranian leadership, the Foreign Office said here on Monday.

Qureshi on Sunday embarked on a two-day visit to Iran and Saudi Arabia on Prime Minister Imran Khan's direction as part of Pakistan's efforts to defuse the tensions in the Gulf region following the killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike.

Khan has said that Pakistan, which shares its border with Iran, will not be party to any regional conflict and rather play the role of a peacemaker. Pakistan's powerful military has also said it will not allow its soil to be used against anyone.

Qureshi met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif separately during which the leaders discussed the recent developments in the Middle East and the Gulf region. Pakistan-Iran relations were also discussed, the Foreign Office said in a statement.

He "emphasised the importance of maximum restraint and immediate steps for de-escalation by all sides", saying that "war was in nobody's interest and it was imperative to resolve the issues through dialogue and diplomacy", it said.

President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif expressed appreciation for Qureshi's visit and stressed the importance Iran attached to its brotherly relations with Pakistan, the statement said.

The leaders stressed that Iran also preferred de-escalation of tensions and preservation of peace and stability in the region, it said.

The unexpected US strike, ordered by President Donald Trump, that killed Iran's most powerful military commander Soleimani on January 3 brought the entire Gulf region closer to a full-blown conflict. Regional tensions remain high after Iran on Wednesday last fired missiles at two bases in Iraq used by US forces in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani.

The ongoing crisis turned a tragic toll when Iran, just after attacking the Iraqi bases, accidentally shot down an Ukraine International Airlines plane, killing all 176 people aboard.

After days of denial, Tehran on Saturday admitted to "human error" in bringing down the Boeing 737. The Guards' aerospace commander General Amirali Hajizadeh also accepted full responsibility for the tragedy.

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