Iran's Rouhani urges Pakistan to act against group behind border attack
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday called for "decisive" action by Pakistan against a militant group behind a deadly suicide attack last month in a border area, and said inaction by Islamabad could jeopardise relations between the neighbours.
Iran's state news agency IRNA said Rouhani's remarks came in a telephone conversation with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who said he would soon have "good news" for Iran, Reuters reported.
A suicide bomber killed 27 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards on 13 February in a southeastern region where security forces are facing a rise in attacks by militants from the country's Sunni Muslim minority.
The Sunni group Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), which says it seeks greater rights and better living conditions for ethnic minority Baluchis, claimed responsibility for the attack.
"We are awaiting your decisive operations against these terrorists," IRNA quoted Rouhani as telling Khan.
Khan said Pakistani forces had advanced close to the militants’ hideout and there would soon be "good news" for Iran, IRNA reported.
"It is in Pakistan's own interest not to allow our territory to be used by terrorist groups, and the Pakistani army is prepared to confront the terrorists more decisively with information provided by Iran," IRNA quoted Khan as saying.
A statement from Khan’s office also heralded a forthcoming visit to Iran, during which it is expected by both countries that bilateral coordination and cooperation will deepen.
The statement said the two leaders acknowledged the need to strengthen bilateral relations and to that end, "both sides look forward to the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Iran in the near future", Pakistani Newspaper Dawn reported on its website.
In the statement, Khan also expressed his heartfelt condolences for the deadly terrorist attack. “Both leaders agreed on the need for closer cooperation among the two intelligence agencies in combatting terrorism,” it said, as quoted in Pakistan’s Express Tribune.
Still, last month Iran's Middle East rival Saudi Arabia signed a series of investment deals with Pakistan worth as much as $20bn for the cash-strapped South Asian country.
Seven agreements and Memorandums of Understanding were inked as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a diplomatic trip to Asia in Islamabad, with Pakistan hoping the deals will provide welcome relief to its teetering economy.