ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Wednesday rejected Saudi Arabia’s claims that his country was backing the Houthi rebels for establishing a pro-Iran state on its doorstep saying “fighting will not resolve this problem”.
Speaking at a joint press conference with Pakistan’s top diplomat on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz, he said: “We are not bombarding anyone… our planes are not there hitting hospitals and bridges and flour factories.”
Saudi Arabia has vowed to bomb the rebels into surrender to prevent them establishing a pro-Iran state on its doorstep.
Zarif is currently on a two-day visit to Pakistan and held a meeting with Prime Minister’s advisor on Foreign Affairs and National Security Aziz. He is expected to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Thursday.
Aziz, on the occasion, said that after three days of discussions at the joint session of Parliament there was a “broad consensus” among lawmakers that Pakistani involvement in the war in Yemen “would not be advisable”.
Zarif, meanwhile, laid out a four-stage plan for talks, calling for an immediate ceasefire followed by humanitarian assistance, dialogue among Yemenis and the formation of an “all-inclusive government”.
“”It´s up to Yemenis to decide how to do this, we can only facilitate as neighbours… as countries with some influence one way or another,” he said.
“We can all help bring this about but these are the four lines on which my government operates.”
Saudi Arabia has pressed Pakistan, a close and longstanding ally, to join its coalition against the Houthis but Islamabad has so far resisted.
Pakistan has called for dialogue and, in addition to Zarif´s visit, held talks with Turkey on how to pursue this aim, while insisting it stands ready to defend Saudi territorial integrity.
Zarif said a “consensus” was emerging around the Iranian four-point plan, following talks with Oman, Turkey and Pakistan.
But Aziz appeared cool on Iran’s idea of an immediate ceasefire, saying it “would consolidate the existing ground position”, which currently has Houthis in control of large parts of Yemen, including the capital Sana’a.
Instead he called for “a more comprehensive resolution on facilitating an intra-Yemeni dialogue to create the possibility of some kind of negotiated solution”.