Islamabad: Iranian Foreign Minister Dr. Akbar Salehi called on Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani here today and exchanged views on a whole gamut of relations spreading over trade, energy, communications, rationalization of the tariff and combating terrorism, which poses grave dangers to the security and economic advancement not only of the two countries but also of the region.
The Prime Minister said that Pakistan had also embarked upon improving its relations with its neighbours because if a country has good relations with its neighbours it does not need support from the countries situated far beyond.
It is in pursuance of this paradigm shift that Pakistan has been reaching out to its neighbouring countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, India, China, Russia and Central Asian Republics to improve its relations in qualitative terms adding that the response is extremely encouraging.
The Prime Minister emphasized on the importance of expediting the projects of gas pipeline and import of 1000 MW electricity from Iran to Pakistan. The Iranian Foreign Minister informed that Iranian part of gas pipeline will be completed by the middle of next year.
About the export of 1000 MW electricity, the Foreign Minister said that Iran can export the electricity even now if it could be connected with the grid system of Pakistan.
The Iranian Foreign Minister during the meeting said that Iran was ready to help Pakistan in all possible ways because Iran is a reliable friend, a neighbour and considers Pakistan’s stability, security and prosperity as Iran’s own security, stability and prosperity.
The Prime Minister said that Joint Economic Ministerial Commission of the two countries should meet frequently to ensure the follow-up and also timely implementation of the decisions taken by the two countries at various levels by the respective governments’ officials.
It was also decided in the meeting to create Investment Fund to encourage the private sector in particular to undertake investment in the two countries. Pakistan also agreed to allow the Iranian Government to open up Bank in Pakistan to facilitate the business community to play their role in the development of their economies. Turkey and Iran have also concluded similar arrangements to jump-start the economic cooperation.
It was also decided to rationalize the tariff regime between the two countries to pick up trade and curb smuggling. The Iranian Foreign Minister said that trade between Iran and Turkey would touch about 15 billion dollars this year and trade between Pakistan and Iran is just a fraction i.e. Pakistan exports to Iran are about 150 million dollars and Iran exports to Pakistan are about dollars 1.2 billion.
On the question of terrorism, the Prime Minister said that the Interior Ministries of the two countries should meet to evolve a comprehensive strategy to fight the menace of terrorism posing serious threat to the countries of the region and indeed to the whole world.
The Iranian Foreign Minister said that his country would consider the proposal of Pakistan regarding the opening of Consulate at Bandar Abbas as the proposal has been mooted for the first time.
Both the leaders were of the view that the population of two countries which is about 250 million people provide a vast market for the economics of the countries. By establishing effective communication and transport mechanism providing connectivity, both countries can realize their full potential. Iranian Foreign Minister proposed that Pakistan should link it up with the rail link now in progress between Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and China.
The Iranian Foreign Minister assured the Prime Minister that he would ensure in his capacity to pave the way for enhancing cooperation between the two countries and if there are irritants he would address those promptly, thoroughly and comprehensively.
The Prime Minister said that he was looking forward to meet the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, the President, Vice President and the Speaker during his visit to brotherly country soon.
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