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FM Qureshi, Iran counterpart discuss Afghan situation

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian had a telephonic conversation. Source: Radio Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran have agreed to continue consultations in the wake of the evolving situation in Afghanistan.

The understanding to this effect was reached during a telephonic conversation between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian.

The two sides exchanged views in detail about latest developments in Afghanistan. They also agreed on holding a virtual conference of Afghanistan’s neighbours at the level of representatives in the upcoming days.

Speaking on the occasion, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan attaches special significance to its relations with brotherly country Iran. In his remarks, the Iranian Foreign Minister lauded Foreign Minister Qureshi’s concerted efforts to evolve a coordinated strategy in the backdrop of situation in Afghanistan. He also thanked Qureshi for visiting Iran.

On Friday, Shah Mahmood Qureshi meet with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab who was visiting Pakistan for discussion on the developments in Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Qureshi described the Taliban control over Kabul as the “new reality” and said Pakistan has no option but to work with the group in power in Afghanistan. “Who do we talk to? Anyone who is in charge. Engaging with that authority is a compulsion,” the foreign minister said.

The foreign minister said Pakistan has to pursue a different approach towards Afghanistan. “We don’t have the choice of getting up and leaving. We have to co-exist. Our geography ties us together. Our approach, therefore, has to be somewhat different,” he explained.

British foreign secretary says UK and Pakistan have a clear and shared interest in Afghanistan’s future but refused to recongnise the Taliban government.

British Foreign Secretary Raab said: “We do not recognise the Taliban as a government, but we do see the importance of engaging and having direct line of communication with them.”

One of the most pressing issues facing the British government with regard to Afghanistan is the evacuation of its nationals and those who had worked with it. “We need to be able to convey direct messages on this,” Mr Raab said.

The UK has evacuated nearly 15,000 people from Afghanistan since Aug 15. Raab said this was made possible through a “constructive dialogue” with the Taliban following the takeover of Kabul.

He said the Taliban made a number of commitments during the dialogue with the British officials and their sincerity about fulfilling their commitments has “to be verified”.

He said the money would not be put in the hands of the Taliban but would be disbursed through humanitarian groups working inside Afghanistan. He said 30 million pounds would go to Afghanistan’s neighbours including Pakistan for meeting the basic requirements of Afghans.