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Iran’s top diplomat seeks to ease tensions during Pakistan visit

ISLAMABAD– Iran’s foreign minister was in Pakistan on Monday for talks on de-escalating tensions after deadly airstrikes by Tehran and Islamabad earlier this month that killed at least 11 people, marking a significant escalation in tense relations between neighbors.

Hossein Amirabdollahian landed before dawn at an airport near Islamabad and held what were described as “in-depth discussions” with his Pakistani counterpart, Jalil Abbas Jilani, at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad. The Iranian foreign minister was also scheduled to meet with Pakistan’s acting prime minister, Anwaarul-Haq-Kakar.

Relations between the two countries were dramatically jeopardized on January 17, when Iran launched airstrikes in Pakistan’s restive southwestern Balochistan province, targeting what Tehran said were the militant group’s hideouts. anti-Iranian Jaish al-Adl, or the Army of Justice. Pakistan said two children were killed and three others injured.

Angered by the strikes, Pakistan withdrew its ambassadors from Tehran and launched airstrikes on suspected militant hideouts in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan province, killing at least nine people. Islamabad said it was targeting Baloch militant groups with separatist goals.

Iran and nuclear-armed Pakistan have long viewed each other with suspicion over militant attacks on their sides of the border. Experts say this month’s strikes were at least partly motivated by domestic political pressure, although they also raised the threat of a spread of violence across the Middle East, already disrupted by the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

During his visit, Amirabdollahian also expects to brief his hosts on an incident on Saturday in which unknown gunmen shot and killed at least four Pakistani workers and injured three others in Iran’s Sistan province. Balochistan. Pakistan condemned the killings, calling the attack “horrific and despicable.”

Relatives of murdered Pakistanis gathered on Sunday to demand that the bodies of their loved ones be repatriated. Pakistan said arrangements were being made for this with the help of Iran and the three injured workers were being treated in an Iranian hospital.

The two foreign ministers will hold a joint press conference on Monday.

ABC

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