ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has expressed his country’s readiness to comprehensively develop relations with Pakistan as well as to agree on new models of trade, and also welcomed Islamabad’s decision to open new border markets to enhance trade between the two countries. The visiting Iranian foreign minister expressed this desire during his meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, according to a statement issued here by the Iranian Embassy after the meeting.
The Foreign Office, in a statement issued separately, stated that Foreign Minister Qureshi emphasised the importance of optimally utilising the existing bilateral mechanisms to increase cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, connectivity, security, and people-to-people exchanges, and to strengthen mutual collaboration in multilateral fora.
In this regard, he underlined the need for regular interactions at multiple levels.
“The two foreign ministers reviewed all aspects of bilateral relations and exchanged views on regional and international issues,” it stated, adding that Foreign Minister Qureshi received Foreign Minister of Iran Dr Javad Zarif.
Their one-on-one meeting was followed by delegation-level talks.
Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored the importance Pakistan attached to its relations with Iran as a fraternal country and important neighbour.
Qureshi extended condolences over the loss of precious lives in Iran due to the Covid-19 and commended the Iranian government’s efforts to contain the pandemic.
On Afghanistan, it added that the foreign minister underlined that peace in Afghanistan was paramount for sustainable stability and prosperity in the region.
Reaffirming Pakistan’s support for Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, Qureshi highlighted Pakistan’s positive contributions, adding that the intra-Afghan negotiations offered a historic opportunity, which all sides must seize to secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.
“The two sides agreed on close coordination to support efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan,” it added.
Foreign Minister Qureshi also apprised Dr Javad Zarif of the worsening humanitarian and human rights situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).
He also highlighted India’s illegal actions to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory.
On behalf of the people of Pakistan, the foreign minister conveyed deep appreciation for the Supreme Leader’s steadfast support for the Kashmir cause, it added.
It further stated that the two foreign ministers exchanged views on the rising Islamophobia in different parts of the world, and agreed to undertake efforts to counter this negative trend.
In the statement, the Iranian Embassy stated that during the meeting the two sides discussed the development of bilateral political, economic and international cooperation between the two countries.
It added that Dr Zarif referred to the deep historical and cultural interests between the nations of Iran and Pakistan.
“He expressed the readiness of the Islamic Republic of Iran to comprehensively develop relations with Pakistan,” it added.
Referring to the decision of Iran to develop border crossing points with Pakistan, Zarif welcomed the decision of the government to open new border markets to develop trade relations between the two countries and announced his country's readiness to agree on new models of trade.
Referring to the importance of strengthening the security of the borders of the two countries, the Iranian foreign minister reminded the need for continuous consultations in this regard.
The Embassy’s statement quoted Foreign Minister Qureshi as having said that Iran is an important friend and neighbour of Pakistan and informed his Iranian counterpart about the practical steps taken by the Pakistani government to develop trade and economic cooperation with Iran and said that the Pakistani government has decided to exchange and help cross-border exports between the two countries.
“The Pakistani foreign minister stressed the importance of establishing peace and security on the Iranian-Pakistani border and stressed that the country would not allow hostile actions against Iran,” it added.
Regional developments, issues of the Islamic world, countering Islamophobia, regional cooperation, especially the strengthening of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), joint fight against terrorism and illegal immigration, and facilitating pilgrimages are among the other topics discussed by the two foreign ministers, it added.
It further stated that the formation of a joint economic commission in the near future was among the other issues discussed and the agreement reached between the foreign ministers of Iran and Pakistan.
Foreign Minister Qureshi also hosted a luncheon in honour of the visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood and senior officers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also attended the luncheon.
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif along with Foreign Minister Qureshi also cut the cake of birth anniversary of Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal.
Talking to the state media, along with the visiting Iranian counterpart, Qureshi said that the frequent visits were helping improve bilateral relations to next level.
He said a host of topics, including bilateral trade, regional situation, and peace in Afghanistan, were discussed with his Iranian counterpart.
He said that Pakistan and Iran shared common identical views over peace in Afghanistan as both countries wanted peace and stability in the mutual neighbour.
“We have decided to increase exchange of views over matters pertaining to Afghanistan to achieve our shared objective of making efforts for durable peace in the neighbouring country,” he added.
The Iranian foreign minister expressed satisfaction with the level of cooperation being extended from Pakistan in securing borders and handling issues relating to immigration and terrorism.
He also appreciated Pakistan for erecting fence along the border to check illegal movement.
Earlier in the day, the visiting Iranian foreign minister met with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa at the general headquarters in Rawalpindi, the Embassy stated in a separate statement.
During the meeting, it stated that the two sides, while expressing satisfaction over the political, military and regional cooperation between the two countries, emphasised the need for expansion of relations in all dimensions.
Zarif referred to the good military cooperation between the two countries and praised the measures taken at the border to strengthen border security, at the same time as opening new border crossings between the two countries and announced that Iran will open the crossing corridor next week.
The Iranian foreign minister added that he hoped that the Gabid crossing would be reopened by the Pakistani side, and that other border crossing paths would be reopened to expand public and commercial ties between the two countries.
“While acknowledging the importance of political and military cooperation between the two countries, General Bajwa stressed the need to expand cooperation in all dimensions, and supported the Pakistani government's decision to open a border bazaar and various crossing points, including the Rimdan-Gabd and Pishin-Mand crossings,” the Embassy further stated.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020