Pakistan FM in Tehran for Afghan Talks

President Hassan Rouhani and Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif  in Tehran on Sept. 11.President Hassan Rouhani and Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif  in Tehran on Sept. 11.

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif sat down with top Iranian officials for talks on bilateral relations and regional developments, particularly efforts to achieve political settlement of the lingering conflict in Afghanistan.

In Tehran on Monday, Asif, who was appointed as Pakistan’s top diplomat last month, met President Hassan Rouhani and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif. The Iranian president expressed Tehran’s readiness for working with Pakistan toward promoting regional peace and stability, saying Iran believes the solution to regional conflicts can be found inside the region, according to his official website.

The trip came in the wake of the announcement of US President Donald Trump’s new strategy on Afghanistan late last month. The strategy involves bringing 4,000 American troops into the long-running conflict in Afghanistan, which has been torn by decades of Taliban-led militancy and the 2001 invasion by the US and its allies. The new policy, which is believed to set the stage for a significant escalation of the war, has created tensions between Islamabad and Washington.

While announcing the new strategy, Trump accused Pakistan of providing a “safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror” and said the US can no longer tolerate it.

Before his trip to Iran, Asif had said he aimed to improve regional coordination to facilitate the political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. Speaking in an interview with IRNA in Islamabad on Sunday, Asif said regional countries should forge consensus to settle the Afghan conflict that defies a military solution. “I believe that if Afghanistan’s neighbors and regional countries reach consensus over a political solution for restoring peace to Afghanistan, stability will return to this country,” he said.  

“The military approach the US has taken since 2001 to Afghanistan has been failing for the past 16 years.”

The Pakistani foreign minister is on a four-nation tour, which took him to China on Friday.

After Tehran, he plans to visit Turkey before wrapping up his tour in Russia.


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