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Iran and Pakistan set to resume relations following cross-border missile strikes –


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Iran and Pakistan are set to resume diplomatic relations, which were cut following cross-border missile strikes from both Tehran and Islamabad against terrorist elements on both sides.

According to the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), both countries have agreed to return their respective ambassadors to their posts. The two nations swiftly recalled their ambassadors after the strike, but returned to their diplomatic duties “after a telephone conversation” between Pakistani Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Jan. 19.

Aside from the return of their respective ambassadors, both Tehran and Islamabad confirmed a visit by the Iranian official to Pakistan. On the same day as the call, Pakistani Acting Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar convened a meeting of the country’s National Security Council intending to defuse the diplomatic crisis.

Kakar subsequently issued a conciliatory statement describing Iran as a “neighbor and a fellow Muslim nation,” stressing the need for “multiple communication channels” between Islamabad and Tehran. “These should be used to address each other’s security concerns in the interests of regional peace and stability,” he said. Kakar also voiced hope that the two countries would be able to “overcome minor irritants through dialogue and diplomacy” and “further deepen our historic relations.”

In Iran, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) quickly responded to Pakistan’s actions. In a Jan. 19 statement, the MFA stressed Tehran’s adherence to a “policy of good neighborliness between the two nations and governments.” Amir-Abdollahian also called Jilani on the same day, emphasizing Iran’s respect for Pakistani sovereignty and territorial integrity.

However, the Iranian official also called for sustained “security and military cooperation” – something that the leaders of both countries had “previously agreed to.” He told his Pakistani counterpart: “Collaboration between our two countries to neutralize and destroy terrorist camps in Pakistan is essential.”

Missile strikes targeted terrorists, separatists

The gestures between both nations came almost a week after Iran struck targets in Pakistan’s Balochistan region with dozens of missiles and drones. Iranian officials said the Jan. 16 strikes targeted sites associated with the Jaish al-Adl (JA) group, a Balochi terrorist group opposing Tehran.

JA is reportedly allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which overran much of the two nations in 2014. The group has also been designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization. (Related: ISIS claims responsibility for twin bombings in Iran that killed dozens of people and injured hundreds more.)

Despite this, Pakistan denounced the Iranian strikes – which left two children dead – as a “blatant violation” of its sovereignty. It also recalled the Pakistani ambassador to Iran while barring the Iranian ambassador for Islamabad from returning.

Two days later on Jan. 18, Pakistan launched missile strikes against targets in Iran’s southeastern Sistan and Baluchestan province, which shares a lengthy border with the Balochistan region. According to Pakistani officials, the strikes were aimed at sites linked to the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF). The BLF has been waging a low-intensity armed insurrection against the Pakistani state for 20 years with its goal of seeking the region’s independence.

Per the Pakistani MOFA, several Balochi “terrorists” had been killed by what it dubbed as “precision strikes on terrorist hideouts.” Meanwhile, the Iranian MFA said Pakistan’s missile barrage had struck a border village – leaving nine foreign nationals dead.

“Iran and Pakistan have had rocky ties in the past, but have maintained relatively good relations – despite fraught regional circumstances – in recent years,” the Epoch Times said. However, the rare missile exchange between the two served to fuel concerns about the potential for broader conflict in an already volatile region.

“Whenever you see strikes in the region, given the tension in the region, there is a risk for an increase in conflict,” said Matthew Miller, spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, at a Jan. 18 press briefing.

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