Pakistan welcomes Zarif’s visit to Islamabad

Islamabad, Aug 24, IRNA -- Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi says he will welcome Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif in Islamabad.

Qureshi, while addressing a briefing at foreign ministry in Islamabad on Friday said, 'Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has sent a message requesting a visit to Pakistan on August 30-31.'

'We will welcome the Iranian Foreign Minister on his Pakistan visit,' he added. 'We have a long border with Iran and wish to have a peaceful, stable shared border,” he noted.

He asserted that the United States (US) handout on a phone call between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo earlier this week which mentioned terrorists operating in Pakistan is contrary to facts.

'The statement issued by the State Department in which some things have been mentioned is in contrast to the truth,' Qureshi said.

'I will say, yes, their press release mentioning terrorists operating in Pakistan is in contrary to the facts.'

'They [the US] say they want to engage constructively with us. They want a productive bilateral relationship. Wherever our interests converge, we have to proceed accordingly,' Qureshi said.

'I look forward to Pompeo's visit and to engage with him for peace and stability and look at areas where both countries stand to gain,' the foreign minister added.

'The strained ties with the US are known to all,' Qureshi told the briefing. 'Relations with the US have always seen highs and lows.'

'It is an important bilateral relationship. We briefed the PM that to bring back relations to their former high, we cannot deny Afghanistan's importance. Their needs will have to be understood for this to be possible.'

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is set to visit Pakistan soon, the foreign minister said, adding that the 'early interaction will prove beneficial, we believe'.

Qureshi also said, 'Peace in Afghanistan is central to peace in Pakistan. President Ashraf Ghani has also sent a positive signal [to Pakistan]. We have to see what role Pakistan can assume.'

The foreign minister said his Chinese counterpart would be visiting Islamabad on Sept 8.

Describing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as 'an important development', Qureshi said the participants of the meeting had deliberated over how Pakistan can 'benefit to the fullest' from it.

'The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation also brings numerous opportunities, and how Pakistan can benefit has to be analysed,' he said, adding that China-Pakistan friendship is 'exemplary'.

'India-Pakistan relations are not hidden from you. We have to see how to proceed. Pakistan is not shy. 'We have signalled positively towards India. I am thankful to India's foreign affairs minister who has sent me a congratulatory letter.'

Qureshi addressed today's briefing following a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and other senior officials at the Foreign Office.

The PM was briefed on the country's foreign policy and ties with other countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iran, the United States and India, as well as the situation in Kashmir.

Qureshi said the PM had been presented an overview of foreign policy challenges facing the foreign office.

'One thing is glaringly obvious ─ we need good representation of our viewpoints at the international level. We need inter-institutional dialogue and consensus.'

'The direction and objectives of our foreign policy, our need is peace, regional peace. We need stability to progress and we need clarity in our objectives.'

'There have been realignments,' he explained. 'The world has changed. It is different from what it used to be. Pakistan is no longer the darling of the West.'

'Political and economic centres are shifting eastwards. The world is becoming increasingly multi-polar and is no longer uni-polar. A multi-polar world has demands that are different from a uni-polar world,' he observed.

'A liberal world order that had emerged is now under stress. There is rising Islamophobia. Anti-immigrant sentiment is also on the rise as affected Western politics deeply.'
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