ISLAMABAD   -  Pakistan yesterday said tension in the region was in no one’s interest, urging the United States and Iran to show restraint.

Speaking at delegation-level talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif here, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan will continue its reconciliatory efforts for ensuring peace and stability and reducing tension in the region.

The FM said that tension in the region was in no one’s interest. “Pakistan wants resolution of all outstanding issues through diplomatic engagement. All the stakeholders need to demonstrate patience and tolerance,” he said.

Iranian television channel Press TV reported that Zarif had put forward his country's proposal to connect Pakistan’s Gwadar port with Chabahar port to promote trade and commerce in the region. 

The proposal was put forward by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who met Pakistan’s civil-military leadership in Islamabad on Friday, reported Press TV.

“I’ve come here with a proposal for the government of Pakistan for connection between Chabahar and Gwadar… We believe that Chabahar and Gwadar can complement each other,” Zarif was quoted as saying.

“We can connect Chabahar and Gwadar, and then through that connect Gwadar to our entire railroad system, from Iran to the North Corridor, through Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, and also through Azerbaijan, Russia, and through Turkey.”

The timing of the Iranian FM’s visit is highly critical as President Hassan Rouhani has rejected talks with the US over recent escalation that poses a threat of a war between the two rival countries.

Pakistan has lately sent a reply to Iran’s February 28 legal notice over delay in completion of Pakistan Iran Gas Pipeline project. Islamabad told Tehran in writing that there were obstacles in the execution of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project as Iran is under US sanctions regime.

President Donald Trump withdrew a year ago from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and global powers, under which Tehran curbed its uranium enrichment capacity, and achieved relief in sanctions in return.

The US resorted its sanctions on Iran last year and extended them this month, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own. Iran has repeatedly rejected any further negotiations as long as the United States remains outside the nuclear pact. Pakistan has already conveyed to the US that it was against any attack on Iran. Islamabad has urged restraint.

Speaking at the meeting, the Iranian Foreign Minister said his country gave value to Pakistan's efforts for establishing peace in the region.

Expressing satisfaction over the implementation on decisions made during Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent visit to Iran the two sides agreed to continue cooperation on bilateral matters.

Javad Zarif also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed Pak-Iran bilateral relations.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) directorate, matters of mutual interest and evolving situation in the region were discussed during the meeting between the Army Chief and the Iranian foreign minister. The COAS said that war is not in anyone’s interest and all sides need to make efforts to keep conflict away from the region. The foreign minister also appreciated Pakistan’s positive role for regional peace and stability, according to the directorate.

The Iranian FM had arrived in Islamabad a day earlier on a two-day visit. This was Zarif’s tenth visit to Pakistan since he became Iranian foreign minister in 2013.

Officials said the two sides discussed ways to expand bilateral ties in different areas, especially in energy sector and regional issues.

In April this year, Prime Minister Imran Khan paid his first official visit to Iran and during the visit the two sides agreed to continue cooperation on bilateral matters.

About a week ago, Zarif visited Turkmenistan, India, Japan and China and held talks with top officials of the four Asian countries on the US measures to create tension in the region and Iranian commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action endorsed by the UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

General Bajwa had also visited Iran in November 2017 year and met with Iranian leaders to further enhance coordination between the two countries, especially in the defense sector.

This month, a US air force bomber task force, including B-52 bombers, also arrived at the US airbase Al Udeid in Qatar.

In an advisory posted on May 9, the US Maritime Administration said that since early May there had been an increased possibility of Iran or its regional proxies taking action against US and partner interests.

Tensions between Iran and the US have escalated sharply in recent weeks. The US unilaterally backed out of a 2015 nuclear pact in May 2018, effectively giving countries worldwide a year to stop buying Iranian oil or face US sanctions, which Washington says are aimed at completely choking off Iranian crude exports.

Washington last month blacklisted Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group. US officials say they have detected indications that Iran could be preparing a military response.

This week, Pakistan offered to mediate between the US and Iran. Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said Pakistan always supported dialogue and desired that all issues should be settled peacefully and through engagement by all sides. “If required, Pakistan is ready to play a constructive and positive role in this regard,” he added.