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Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Seyyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini Thursday said that Tehran is ready to join China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and called for finding ways to deal with the US sanctions hampering economic cooperation.

Speaking at Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) on 'Pak-Iran Peace and Security Cooperation,' the Iranian ambassador said that his country desires to join the CPEC, adding that there is a need for finding ways to deal with the sanctions and restrictions on Iran for expanding economic cooperation.

Recognising Pakistan's vital role in maintenance of peace, Hosseini said that tensions in the Middle East continue unabated and there is a need for renewed peace efforts. He welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan's efforts for de-escalation of tensions in the region, adding that Pakistan has a vital role for maintenance of regional peace and stability.

"There are clear signs of the fact that the regional circumstances are not improving," he said, adding that the tense situation was a result of 'external' interference in the region, misperceptions, and miscalculations.

"This cognitive impairment and miscalculations resulted in current crisis in the region," the ambassador said.

He said that the situation had been exacerbated by lack of dialogue and absence of a structured engagement in the region. "What the region needs more than ever, is an across the board and comprehensive dialogue," he said, adding that Iran's President Hasan Rouhani had last year proposed a regional cooperation mechanism called Hormuz Peace Endeavour (HOPE) for durable peace throughout the region.

He said the plan envisaged countering sectarian strife and tackling current conflicts in peaceful manner through dialogue and cooperation. He said HOPE could help eliminate terrorism and extremism, realize vision of security for all, ensure respect for sovereignty of the countries and their integrity, contain threats and violence, and end external inferences in internal affairs of the countries in the region.

The ambassador said that Iran desires solutions to the conflicts and all the regional countries should be the axis of peaceful and diplomatic solutions for the various conflicts afflicting the region.

"Iran believes in security for all, but for realization of the vision of an all-encompassing peace, all sides will have to take clear steps," he said, adding that Iran on its part is ready for dialogue with Saudi Arabia. "Though there has been no positive response from Saudi Arabia as yet, we have not lost hope," he added.

He said that Iran sees Pakistan's role for regional peace as a very important one, adding that Pakistan has been 'a good ally' in both good and bad times. "Tehran attaches high value to brotherly country of Pakistan," he added.

According to him, Prime Minister Imran Khan is sincerely trying to improve bilateral relations. "His [PM Khan] efforts brought the two countries closer," he said, adding that security forces of both countries were cooperating for border security and the situation was much better now.

About the assassination of senior Iranian commander Gen Qassem Soleimani by the United States, he said that US through this act has once again proved that "it not only has the slightest respect and care for human and ethical values, but also sees no obligation to legal and international rules and laws".

"The same mindset caused President Donald Trump to threaten attack on cultural heritage of Iran, which is joint cultural and civilization heritage of humanity," he added.

Former Defence Secretary Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik (retd) asked Iran to remain vigilant of India and the Hindu mindset there, adding that India has no love for the Muslims.

Executive Director IPI Prof Sajjad Bokhari said that Pakistan-Iran ties have been impacted by the regional and the geo-political environment. Citing examples of Pakistan staying out of Yemen war and offering mediation on multiple occasions, he said that the two sides have importantly collaborated for peace in the past.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020