Iran takes lead to cool India-Pakistan tempers

December 29th, 2008 - 1:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, Dec 29 (IANS) Iran has taken the lead in cooling Pakistan-India tensions in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, with President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad heading for New Delhi for talks with Indian leaders, a media report said Monday.”Iran is turning out to be the first country of the region that has decided to play a mediatory role at the head of the state level between Pakistan and India,” The News said.

“Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is dashing to New Delhi early this week for talks with the Indian leaders with regard to the alarming situation prevailing in the neighbourhood. He may visit Islamabad immediately after concluding his discussions in the Indian capital,” it added.

Ahmedinejad, “who is deeply concerned” about the rising tension between the two nuclear-armed states, “has been maintaining interaction with both the countries termed friends by Tehran”, the newspaper said.

The Iranian president “will convert his endeavour into shuttle diplomacy if he gets encouraging signals from both the capitals”, The News said, adding: “Pakistan will welcome such an effort”.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehar Mottaki has already spoken to his Pakistani and Indian counterparts about the situation.

Quoting highly placed sources, The News said Pakistan had “been given (a) hint about the Iranian desire through diplomatic channels”.

“China has already deputed special representative at the senior diplomatic level to play a role to defuse the situation. The special Chinese envoy has already initiated his work,” it added.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, who visited New Delhi last week with the same purpose, has also taken Pakistan into confidence about his mission.

“Diplomatic observers are of the view that Washington, which is desperately enhancing its clout in the region and trying very hard to bring New Delhi on its right side, could see the efforts of Iran and China with suspicion because the success of such attempts could eclipse American influence in the region and interject the long-term designs of Washington,” The News said.

“The US reaction would be watched with fair amount of interest in the world capitals since it might not come out in public to offer its reaction on the move,” it added.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi has previously said that Iran is ready to defuse tension between Pakistan and India.

“The ongoing tension between the two neighbouring countries would only benefit terrorists,” Qureshi has been quoted as saying.

“Mottaki told me in a telephone conversation that he had spoken to (Indian External Affairs Minister) Pranab Mukherjee and asked India to show restraint,” Qureshi added.

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