Apr 19, 2021, 1:43 PM
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Strengthening bilateral ties, agenda of FM Qureshi's Iran visit: Pakistan envoy

Islamabad, April 19, IRNA -- Ambassador of Pakistan to Iran says that strengthening of bilateral relations, especially taking coordinated steps to develop border trade, are main goals of Pakistani Foreign Minister's visit to Tehran.

Rahim Hayat Qureshi addressing a webinar in Pakistan said we are expecting Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Tehran very soon adding that bilateral issues would top on the agenda during his meetings with Iranian officials.

The webinar titled "Pakistan: The next geo-economics hub of Asia?" was organized by COLABS in collaboration with one of Pakistan’s leading newspapers, the Daily Times.

In addition to Pakistani ambassador to Iran, the webinar was attended by some international affairs experts, journalists and Pakistan's ambassador to Italy.

Rahim Hayat Qureshi, as the main speaker of the program, pointed to the geographical and strategic commonalities of the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan in the region.

“Despite sanctions Iranian economy has developed to a large extent and they are developing internally which is commendable,” he said.

The ambassador added we have great complementary with Iran we need to seriously take advantage of our geographical location which places us next to energy rich country.

**Agenda of Pakistani Foreign Minister's visit to Iran

Referring to the upcoming visit of Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to Tehran, which is said to begin tomorrow, the Pakistani ambassador said strengthening bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, examining the situation of common borders and finding useful solutions to improve living standards on both sides of the border are the main goals of Mr. Qureshi's trip to Tehran.

“Foreign minister will be going to Istanbul for Afghan peace process conference so we would have nice conversations with our Iranian brothers on Afghanistan too,” Qureshi said at the webinar.

**Pakistan to benefit from Iran-China comprehensive cooperation

Qureshi in his views said Pakistan can take lot of benefits from 25-year strategic cooperation plan between the Islamic Republic of Iran and China. For example Iran can export its gas to China through Pakistan.

He added Iran is of course very old civilization and we know it has historic routes in the region adding that China Pakistan Economic Corridor is nothing it is just reinvigoration of old trading routes.

The ambassador added we have great complementarities with Iran and we need to seriously take advantage of our geographical location which places us next to energy rich country.  “For example we are importing LNG from Qatar and whenever the situation is right we can complete the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline very quickly,” he said.

He said we have two, three fertilizer plants which are now in a poor situation because of the lack of gas so these are the things which we can immediately resolve from Iran in terms of IP gas pipeline.  So there is a huge potential.

Rahim Hayat Qureshi went on to say we have issues with sanctions like we have problems in banking, look we have surplus rice of about US $ 500 million but we have not been able to export that rice to Iran due to banking sanctions and this is giving us a loss of US $ 500 million every year for the last 10-15 years.

“We border with Iran and our exports have surplus possibility of reaching US $ 1 billion per year with Iran,” the envoy pointed out.

**ECO train, a new route of cooperation with Iran and Turkey

Referring to the Tehran-Istanbul-Islamabad goods train also called the ECO train the ambassador said a rate has been fixed at 8 cents par tone kilometer which is pretty feasible.

“We have the 11 days of travelling time from Islamabad to Istanbul and by sea it is 21 days so already see some savings over there,” noted the ambassador.

He said the problem is not too much on Iranian and Turkish sides it is on our side. He added that condition of track is not good and needs an investment of US $ 800 for the upgradation.  

Qureshi added that upgrading of the track would open new avenues of cooperation between Iran and Pakistan.

**Islamabad is determined to defuse tensions in the region

The ambassador expressing his views said Pakistan never takes positions on dispute between two Muslim countries and ready to mediate in this regards.

“If there are differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia or other countries we are always ready to play a role to bridge those differences but we will never take side of one Muslin country over another,” added Qureshi.

He said: We are seeing that situation has improved a lot and there are some signs of pact up in Yemen so this region is going through some fast developments.

According to the report, the Pakistani Foreign Minister's regional visit to four countries, including the Islamic Republic of Iran, began on Saturday with the agenda of strengthening bilateral relations and consensus to advance the Afghan peace process.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh during a virtual press conference on Monday said Pakistan Minister of Foreign Affairs will visit Iran on Wednesday.

He considered the visit of Shah Mahmood Qureshi to Tehran important and added relations between the two countries are deep and wide, and during the visit, in addition to discussing bilateral issues, we will open the third cross-border gateway between the two countries.

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