ISLAMABAD              -          As the whole world is trying to de-escalate US-Iran tension, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells will travel to Pakistan from January 19 to January 22 and hold meetings with senior government officials to deliberate upon the matters of mutual and regional interests.

Wells will also visit Sri Lanka and India before reaching Pakistan. Her Pakistan trip will be a part of her 10-day visit to the region.

Fears of US-Iran war sparked after the US assassinated Iran’s top military commander Qassem Soleimani in an air strike at Baghdad’s international airport on January 3.

In retaliation, Iran launched over a dozen ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Assad airbase in Iraq’s Anbar province and a military facility in Erbil.

Pakistan has urged for active diplomacy to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan was very clear on its position on the ME situation. “We stand for peace, stability and security in region. I have reiterated this to all stakeholders in my recent conversations,” he tweeted.

The FM added: “Active diplomacy to de-escalate tensions is the need of the hour. Violence must be avoided. We will continue with (peace) efforts.”

US President Donald Trump had ordered an air strike on an Iraqi airport in Baghdad, which killed Soleimani - classified by the Barrack Obama administration as a ‘terrorist.’

The attack came just days after protesters who support Iran-backed Iraqi Shia militia raided on New Year’s Eve the US embassy in Iraq, which has never been breached before.

Iran has since placed an $80 million bounty on Trump’s head and threatened to attack the White House in response to the President’s warning that any strike on American interests in the region will bring massive retaliation.

This week, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper telephoned Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa to discuss the regional situation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had also called General Bajwa days earlier. The army chief assured the US secretaries that Pakistan will support all initiatives that help bring about peace in the region.

In a series of tweets, the spokesperson of the armed forces, Major General Asif Ghafoor, said Bajwa and Esper had discussed the prevailing situation in the Middle East following the killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in a US drone strike and Tehran’s retaliation through bombing of U.S. military bases in Iraq. “The secretary expressed that U.S. doesn’t want to seek conflict, but will respond forcefully if necessary,” he said.

According to the statement, General Bajwa said Islamabad would prefer the situation to de-escalate. “We call upon all concerned to avoid rhetoric in favour of diplomatic engagement. We all have worked a lot to bring peace in the region by fighting against terrorism.”

Reiterating his view that the current situation in Iran should not be allowed to derail the ongoing Afghanistan peace process, General Bajwa said Pakistan would continue to play its role in ensuring the initiative succeeds.