Pakistan

PM, army chief meet Iran foreign minister on Yemen

ISLAMABAD: The Iranian foreign minister on Thursday met Pakistan’s prime minister and powerful army chief as part of efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Yemen.

Mohammed Javad Zarif met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the end of a two-day visit focused on the Yemen crisis, as Washington warned Tehran against supporting the Huthi Shiite rebels.

Zarif and his Pakistani counterpart on Wednesday urged a negotiated end to the conflict, as the Saudi-led air campaign enters its third week.

His visit comes as Pakistani lawmakers debate Riyadh’s request for the country to send troops, ships and warplanes to join the Saudi-led coalition bombarding Shiite Huthi rebels in Yemen.

Pakistan has so far resisted the demands from Saudi, a close and longstanding ally.

“The Prime Minister stressed the need to ponder the ways and means to bring an end to the conflict at the earliest by peaceful means,” a statement from Sharif’s office said after the meeting with Zarif.

Riyadh accuses Tehran, the major Shiite power, of backing the Huthis, but Zarif insisted his government wanted a swift end to the crisis.

Earlier in the day Zarif met General Raheel Sharif, the head of Pakistan’s army, and discussed the “including evolving situation in the Middle East”, according to a military statement.

Islamabad finds itself in an awkward position on Yemen, reluctant to offend oil-rich Saudi, with which it has long enjoyed close military and economic ties but also not wanting to get involved in a war that could fan sectarian tensions at home. – AFP

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