Iran’s FM to visit Pakistan to rebuild ties after missile strikes

By Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -Pakistan said on Monday Iran’s foreign minister will visit the country next week, signaling efforts to mend relations after the neighbours exchanged missile strikes last week at what they said were militant targets.

Ambassadors of both countries have also been asked to return to their posts by Jan. 26, the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement. Iran’s foreign ministry confirmed that Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian would visit on Monday, and said its ambassador would resume duties in Islamabad on Friday.

Pakistan had recalled its ambassador to Tehran and had not allowed his counterpart to return to Islamabad, as well as cancelling all high-level diplomatic and trade engagements.

“At the invitation of Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, will undertake a visit to Pakistan on 29 January 2024,” a Pakistani foreign office statement said.

The tit-for-tat strikes by the two countries were the highest-profile cross-border intrusions in recent years and have raised alarm about wider instability in the region since the war between Israel and Hamas erupted on Oct. 7.

The two Muslim nations have had a history of rocky relations, but the intrusions amounted to the highest level of attacks in decades.

Islamabad said it hit bases of the separatist Baloch Liberation Front and Baloch Liberation Army, while Tehran said its missiles struck militants from the Jaish al Adl (JAA) group.

The militant groups operate in an area that includes Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan and Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province. Both regions are restive, mineral-rich and largely underdeveloped.

Iran said the strikes in a border village on its territory killed nine people, including four children. Pakistan said the Iranian attack had killed two children.

(Reporting by Gibran Peshimam and Parisa Hafezi; writing by Shivam Patel and Asif Shahzad; editing by YP Rajesh, Ros Russell and Mark Heinrich)