Pakistan FM on US visit in outreach to de-escalate Middle East tensions

Islamabad [Pakistan], Jan 15 (ANI): Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is set to begin his two-day trip to the United States on Wednesday in a bid to support efforts for de-escalating and resolving tensions in the Middle East through political and diplomatic means. According to the Foreign Office, Qureshi, who will meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor Robert O' Brien and other senior Administration officials, will focus on Pakistan's diplomatic outreach, undertaken on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan, in the wake of the recent tensions in Middle East or the Gulf region. "The objective is to support efforts for de-escalation and resolution of differences and disputes through political and diplomatic means," the foreign office said in a statement. "The Foreign Minister's visit to the US is part of these endeavours," it added.Qureshi will also have meetings in the Capitol Hill and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, besides engagements with the media, think tank community and the Pakistani diaspora. In addition to reviewing the full spectrum of bilateral relations between the US and Pakistan, Qureshi will also underscore the value his country attaches to a broad-based, long-term and enduring partnership with Washington in line with the vision of the leaders of the two countries. He will further highlight Pakistan's role and continued resolve to support the Afghan peace and reconciliation process. Qureshi's US visit succeeds his trip to Tehran and Riyadh on Sunday. According to Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi, Qureshi held talks with Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other officials on the current situation in the region. The minister then travelled to Riyadh to hold talks with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and consult on the issues of regional peace and stability.According to Pakistan media reports, Qureshi, in a statement on Saturday, had said that Iran owning up to its mistake of downing Ukrainian passenger plane would likely ease up tensions in the region. "Iran's confession of downing Ukrainian passenger plane should ease up tensions as the region can neither endure tension nor can it tolerate war anymore," he said.Qureshi reiterated that Pakistan would play an active role to reduce growing tensions in the region but it could never again be part of any war. Iranian armed forces last Saturday admitted that they unintentionally shot down the Ukrainian airliner, killing 176 people on board, and blamed "human error" for the mistake. The plane downing, as well as the subsequent missile attacks by Iran on US bases in Iraq, came in retaliation to top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a Pentagon-ordered airstrike on January 3 near Baghdad International Airport. (ANI)