November 11, 2020
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday during a two-day visit to the neighboring country.
Zarif’s visit to Pakistan forms part of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries, the foreign office said. This is his fourth visit to Pakistan in the last two and a half years.
Relations between Iran and Pakistan have been strained in the last two years, with both sides accusing each other of not doing enough to stamp out militants allegedly sheltering across the border.
“Friendly relations and neighborliness of the two countries, border and defense affairs, as well as peace and security in the region were discussed during the meeting,” Pakistan’s military wing said about Zarif’s meeting with the army chief.
Zarif also met Qureshi and discussed “issues of mutual interest, including bilateral relations, promotion of bilateral cooperation in multilateral fields, and the [coronavirus] epidemic situation.”
“The two Foreign Ministers also discussed issues related to better border management, promotion of bilateral ties and better facilities for visitors,” the Pakistani foreign office said, adding that they agreed to make joint efforts for peace and stability in the region, including peace in Afghanistan.
“The two Foreign Ministers, while expressing concern over the growing trend of Islamophobia in some European countries, made it clear that abusive behavior under the guise of freedom of expression is not tolerable,” the foreign office said.
Zarif will also call on Prime Minister Imran Khan today.
Iranian media reported on Tuesday that Zarif would lead a high-ranking political and economic delegation to discuss various issues, including effective management of a 900-km shared border with Pakistan.
Last year, Iran and Pakistan said they would form a joint quick reaction force to combat militant activity on their shared border. Pakistan began fencing its border with Iran in May 2019.
In May this year, Pakistan’s military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa spoke to his Iranian counterpart Major General Mohammed Bagheri via telephone and discussed border fencing, improvement of border terminals, enhancing security and recent attacks on Pakistani troops near the border, among other issues, according to a statement from the Pakistani Army’s media wing.