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Tuesday Jan 14 2020

Qureshi to meet UN's Guterres, UNGA president in New York today

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi speaks at a UNGA assembly. Photo: AP

WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is set to briefly visit the United Nations headquarters in New York today to meet leaders before heading to Washington with the aim to diffuse tensions between Iran and the United States, according to official sources. 

During his stay, Qureshi will meet UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande.

The foreign minister is set to depart for Washington in the evening later today.

At a regular briefing on Tuesday, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric confirmed the UN chief's meeting with the foreign minister, saying it was taking place at the Pakistani Mission's request.

Read more: Iran agrees deescalation 'only solution' to solve crisis

In response to a question, the spokesperson said Guterres had been advocating dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve outstanding problems and that any solution should take into account the human rights situation in Kashmir.

Qureshi has already visited Iran and Saudi Arabia, where he met the two countries' leaders in an effort to ease tensions in the region after a US airstrike killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.

The foreign minister embarked on the mission as tensions mounted across the Middle East following the 62-year-old general's death in Iraq and Iran's admission that it shot down an airliner by mistake, killing 176 people on board.

"Recent developments seriously endanger peace and security in an already volatile region and underscore the need for immediate and collective efforts for a peaceful resolution," the foreign office said as Qureshi left for Tehran on the first leg of his trip.

The new developments in the Middle East took place amid high tensions between India and Pakistan following New Delhi's annexation of occupied Kashmir, which remains under a punishing lockdown since August 5. Making the situation more dangerous, India has stepped up Line of Control (LoC) violations in the disputed Kashmir region.

Read more: Military observers to brief UNSC over LoC situation

In an August 8 statement, the UN secretary-general had voiced concern over the situation, saying: “The position of the United Nations on this region is governed by the Charter of the United Nations and applicable Security Council resolutions.

”The secretary-general also recalls the 1972 Agreement on bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, also known as the Simla Agreement”, the statement had read, "which states that the final status of Jammu and Kashmir is to be settled by peaceful means”, in accordance with the UN Charter.

The UN chief had said he was "concerned over reports of restrictions on the Indian-side of Kashmir, which could exacerbate the human rights situation in the region", and called on "all parties to refrain from taking steps that could affect the status of Jammu and Kashmir."

On August 16, the UNSC had considered and addressed the volatile situation surrounding Kashmir in a meeting focused solely on the dispute within the UN body — dedicated to resolving matters of international peace and security — for the first time since 1965.

Though the meeting took place behind closed doors in New York, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun spoke to reporters outside the chamber after the deliberations, urging both India and Pakistan to “refrain from taking any unilateral action which might further aggravate” what was an already “tense and very dangerous” situation.