ISLAMABAD: Iran’s foreign minister was in Pakistan on Friday, a critically timed visit amid a simmering crisis between Tehran and Washington and ahead of next week’s emergency Arab League meeting called by Saudi Arabia over regional tensions, reports Reuters.
The purpose of the visit by Mohammad Javad Zarif, who held talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and also Prime Minister Imran Khan, was not made public. But there has been speculation that Iran is looking to Islamabad and its close relationship with Riyadh to help de-escalate the situation.Ahead of Zarif’s arrival, Pakistan’s foreign ministry called on “all sides to show restraint, as any miscalculated move, can transmute into a large-scale conflict.”
Zarif has been criticized by name this week by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who named him and President Hassan Rouhani as failing to implement the leader’s orders over Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Khamenei had claimed the deal had “numerous ambiguities and structural weaknesses” that could damage Iran.
The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Zarif in Islamabad as warning of anarchy if world powers did not unite to stop what he called U.S. aggression — Iran’s official parlance for Washington’s pressure on Tehran. Tensions have ratcheted up recently in the Mideast as the White House earlier this month sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over a still-unexplained threat it perceived from Iran. And on Thursday, the Pentagon outlined proposals to the White House to send military reinforcements to the Middle East to beef up defenses against Iran.
The crisis takes root in the steady unraveling of the nuclear deal, intended to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The accord promised economic incentives in exchange for restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear activities.