Pakistan Iran agree to strengthen bilateral cooperation

Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Friday agreed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation and mutual engagement in diverse fields for the socio- economic development of the people of the two countries besides promoting stability, peace, development and shared prosperity of the region. They also reiterated resolve for enhancing mutual coordination for countering terrorism, narcotics control and human trafficking besides sanitizing the borders from the terrorists

The two leaders held wide ranging discussion on bilateral, regional and international issues during meeting at Tehran today that was also attended by interior Minister Rehman Malik, Petroleum Minister Dr. Asim Hussain, Pakistan’s ambassador in Iran and spokesperson to the President Mr. Farhatullah Babar. Ms. Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari was also present.

Pakistan-Iran bilateral relations, ways and means to further broaden the existing cooperation in various areas with particular focus on the promotion of trade and investment ties and rail and road links between the two countries, the early realization of IP gas pipeline, and other matters of regional connectivity were discussed during the meeting.

The President while commenting on fight against militancy said that the whole region was facing the common enemy of militancy and urged for a joint strategy and mutual cooperation to curb violent extremism. The President while suggesting Iran to consider ways and means to create an Integrated Border Management Regime between Pakistan and Iran said that both the sides need to intensify consultations and take pragmatic steps for meeting the challenge of militancy and extremism, on one hand, and for regional stability and peace, on the other, as both the countries have vital interests in the stability and peace of the region.

The President said that Pakistan and Iran may consider undertaking joint economic projects in Afghanistan in order to enhance connectivity, build infrastructure, rail and road links as well as trilateral cooperation in other mega projects. He said that Pakistan and Iran face a common menace of drug trafficking across their borders and expressed the hope that a mechanism in the form Trilateral initiative (Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan) would help to counter narcotics trafficking in the region.

The President said that we need to take full advantage for our geo-strategic locations for ushering new era of development in our countries, in particular, and in the whole region.

The President urged for further deepening Pak-Iran bilateral cooperation in all areas particularly trade, energy, security, communication and infrastructure. Pakistan attaches great importance to its cordial equation with Iran and regards Iran as an important friend and player in the region, he said.

He said that he had discussed upgradation of Pakistan-Iran-Turkey rail transport system with the Turkish President Abdullah Gul of Turkey. We believe, the President said, that a fast cargo train that connects Pakistan to Turkey via Iran would be a win-win mega project that would enhance regional connectivity and boost regional trade.

The President said that .considerable work has been done in the Iran Pakistan gas pipe line project and it was important now to move towards the implementation phase of the Project.

The President said that we must find ways and means to bring about a quantitative increase in our bilateral trade to at least four billion dollars in the next few years which is, at present, only one billion dollars. He said that we must work together to identify impediments to full implementation of our Preferential Trade Agreement concluded in 2006. A bilateral Pakistan-Iran Free Trade Agreement may also be considered, the President suggested.

Discussing regional situation especially the developments in Afghanistan, the President said that Pakistan supports the process initiated by President Karzai for national reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan. We have always stressed that reconciliation process must be Afghan led and Afghan owned process. We have offered and are ready to provide all possible assistance in capacity building of Afghan institutions, the President reiterated. He said that Afghanistan should not again become a play-field for proxy wars or civil strife after the withdrawal of NATO/ISAF forces. The President said that both Pakistan and Iran have vital interests in the stability and peace in Afghanistan.

The Iranian leadership welcoming the President appreciated the role Pakistan was playing in promotion of regional stability and peace and for its keen interest in further strengthening existing cordial equation with Iran.

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