Wed, 21 Aug 2019

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has begun his first official visit to neighboring Iran for talks set to focus on strengthening bilateral ties, fighting terrorism, and safeguarding borders, Iranian state media reported.

The two-day trip started on April 21 with a stopover in the holy city of Mashhad, where Khan was expected to visit the shrine of Imam Reza, who is revered by Shiite Muslims.

Khan was expected to fly to the capital, Tehran, to hold talks with President Hassan Rohani and other top officials, IRNA said.

The visit comes a day after Pakistan asked Iran to take action against terrorist groups believed to be behind the killing of 14 Pakistani soldiers earlier this month.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on April 20 that 15 gunmen wearing military uniforms ambushed a bus in southwestern Baluchistan Province on April 18, killing 14 Pakistani Army personnel.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said in a letter to the Iranian government that the assailants came from an alliance of three Baluch terrorist organizations based in Iran.

Qureshi told reporters that Khan would take up the matter with Iranian authorities.

Qureshi said he spoke to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on April 20 to share the initial findings of a Pakistani probe into the killing of security personnel with him.

There was no immediate reaction from Tehran.

Earlier this year, Iran called on Pakistan to take action against a militant group behind a deadly attack on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Twenty-seven IRGC members were killed in a February suicide car bombing near the border with Pakistan.

The Sunni Muslim extremist group Jaish al-Adl claimed responsibility for the attack in southeastern Iran.

Based on reporting by AFP, Irna.ir, and dawn.com

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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