Biden puts his weight behind Pakistan, says Iran not ‘well-liked’ in region

White House spox says attack on Pakistan was another example of Iran’s destabilising behavior in region

US President Joe Biden speaks to the media before departing the White House for North Carolina, in Washington, US, January 18, 2024. — Reuters
US President Joe Biden speaks to the media before departing the White House for North Carolina, in Washington, US, January 18, 2024. — Reuters
  • Washington monitoring Iran-Pakistan clashes closely: WH.
  • Kirby says US doesn’t want escalation in South and Central Asia.
  • UN chief expresses concern over Iran, Pakistan air strikes. 

US President Joe Biden has criticised Iran for launching a strike on Pakistan, saying that the clashes between the two countries showed that Tehran is not “well-liked” in the region.

Pakistan launched strikes on terrorists’ hideouts inside Iran on Thursday, in a retaliatory attack two days after Tehran violated the country’s sovereignty by launching a strike in Balochistan that left two children dead and injured three girls.

In a statement, the Pakistan Army said the hideouts used by terrorist militant organisations, namely Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF), were successfully struck in an intelligence-based operation, code named — “Marg Bar Sarmachar”.

“The precision strikes were carried out using killer drones, rockets, loitering munitions and stand-off weapons. Maximum care was taken to avoid collateral damage,” it added.

Reacting to the clashes, Biden said: “As you can see Iran is not particularly well-liked in the region and where that goes, we’re working on now. I don’t know where that goes.”

The United States has been locked in a test of wills with Iran over its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen who have been launching attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Air Force One as Biden flew to North Carolina that Washington is monitoring the Iran-Pakistan clashes closely.

“We don’t want to see an escalation clearly in South and Central Asia. And we’re in touch with our Pakistani counterparts,” Kirby said.

Kirby said the attack on Pakistan was another example of Iran’s destabilising behavior in the region.

Separately, UN chief Antonio Guterres expressed concern after Iran and Pakistan exchanged air strikes on each other’s territory.

“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the recent exchange of military strikes between Iran and Pakistan,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“He urges both countries to exercise maximum restraint to avoid a further escalation of tensions.”

Pakistan’s foreign ministry described Thursday´s raids as a “series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts” in Sistan-Baluchistan.

The strikes took place at around 4:30 am (0100 GMT), with three drones destroying four houses in a village near the city of Saravan, IRNA said, citing Alireza Marhamati, deputy governor of the province.

All of those killed were Pakistanis, and investigations were under way to determine why they were in the Iranian village, Marhamati said.


With additional input from Reuters, AFP

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