Iranian FM arrives in Pakistan to hold bilateral talks

Islamabad: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif  arrived here on a three-day official visit on Sunday for holding talks with Pakistani leadership on issues of mutual interest, including the regional situation. During his stay the visiting  Foreign Minister  is scheduled to  hold meeting with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, President Mamnoon Hussain, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The visiting Iranian foreign minister would also hold bilateral talks with Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on various issues of mutual interests, regional situation with emphasis on Afghanistan and exploring the ways and means to further expand the cooperation in various areas.

 is leading a high-level delegation that includes a large group of businessmen.The foreign minister is scheduled to meet Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership. He will also deliver a lecture on 70 years of Pak-Iran ties at the Institute of Strategic Studies.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted by Iranian media as having said that the Iranian minister would review issues of mutual interest with a special focus on expansion of economic and trade relations between the two neighbours.

The two countries are continuing to face challenges in ties despite the apparent improvement in them since Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s trip to Tehran late last year.

With Iran leasing out Chabahar Port to India and Pakistan Army announcing deployment of troops to Saudi Arabia, the mutual mistrust between the neighbours stands renewed.

Iran’s envoy to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost last month said that establishment of bilateral banking ties was being delayed because of Islamabad’s ‘conservativeness’, while Islamabad-Pakistan gas pipeline project remains frozen.

Banking relations are considered crucial to expanding bilateral trade, which currently stands at $1.2 billion. The target is to increase it to $5bn per annum over the next few years, but it looks to be a difficult goal to achieve in the absence of regular banking channels.

Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal expressed the hope that Mr Zarif’s trip would serve to improve economic and trade ties between the two countries.


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