Pakistan, Iran Seek To Boost Trade, Security Ties As FM Qureshi Visits Tehran

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is in Iran’s capital Tehran on a three-day official visit, held wide-ranging talks with senior Iranian officials on Wednesday.

In a meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, the two officials discussed bilateral ties, regional developments and the ongoing talks in Vienna on the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, according to official sources.

In his remarks, Rouhani stressed the need to develop and deepen cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad in different fields, in particular trade and economy, besides strengthening cross-border markets.

The two sides also reviewed cooperation agreements between the two neighbors, with Rouhani announcing Iran’s readiness to help Pakistan meet its energy needs. They also agreed on securing joint borders, with emphasis on peace and stability in the region.

Regional developments, especially the Afghan peace process and the proposed withdrawal of US forces from the war-ravaged country, also figured in the discussions.

The Iranian president maintained that the foreign military presence in the region “had not helped maintain security and stability.”

“Iran and Pakistan, as most important neighbors of Afghanistan, must play their role in managing the peace process in that country through interaction and cooperation,” Rouhani noted.

Qureshi, for his part, described relations with Tehran as “valuable”, referring to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s emphasis on further bolstering ties.

He also expressed support to ongoing efforts by Iran and other signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal to salvage the agreement through negotiations presently underway in Vienna.

Qureshi later took to Twitter, saying he shared Pakistan’s “vision and commitment to deepen relations with Iran in trade, investment, connectivity, and border management for mutual economic development” in his meeting with Rouhani.

He also announced the joint inauguration of Mand-Pishin as the third international border crossing point between the two countries.

“Together, Pakistan and Iran are committed to connect people on both sides and to enhance bilateral trade,” he said.

Earlier, Pakistan’s Embassy in Tehran said the visit, as part of regular high-level exchanges between the two countries, came at the invitation of Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

The statement said the two sides would also “deliberate on strengthening regional cooperation under the umbrella of Economic Cooperation Organization.”

During the visit, Qureshi is expected to hold delegation-level talks with Zarif, besides meeting with Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. He will also pay a visit to the shrine of Imam Reza in northeast Iran’s Mashhad city.