Iran president to visit Pakistan ‘very soon’, PM Sharif says

By Thomson Reuters Apr 17, 2024 | 4:14 AM

By Charlotte Greenfield

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi will visit Pakistan “very soon”, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Wednesday, as the Muslim neighbours look to mend ties after January’s tit-for-tat missile strikes at what they said were militant targets.

The strikes had fed concern about wider regional instability after the war between Israel and Hamas erupted on Oct 7.

News of the visit comes as the United States and its allies plan fresh sanctions against Iran for its unprecedented attack on Israel on Saturday, while seeking to deter the latter from a major escalation.

Sharif’s office issued a statement on Raisi’s visit following a cabinet meeting, after Pakistan signalled earlier that it could take place.

This week broadcaster Geo News said the Iranian president would arrive in Pakistan on April 22, citing sources.

Pakistan’s foreign office did not respond to a request from Reuters for comment on the report, however.

The neighbours have had a history of rocky relations, but the missile strikes were the most serious incidents in years.

Swift efforts to lower the temperature subsequently led to assurances that they respected each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, while vowing to expand security cooperation.

Pakistan has previously called on all parties in the Middle East to “exercise utmost restraint and move towards de-escalation”.

In another sign of warming Middle East ties, Sharif’s office added that Saudi Arabia would invest billions of dollars following a visit to Pakistan this week by its foreign minister.

(Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield in Islamabad; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Clarence Fernandez)