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May 04,2017

Pak-Iran hotline restored

M SalehZaafir & Shakeel Anjum

Operational committees to be formed to remove reservations; Iranian foreign minister meets civil, military leadership

ISLAMABAD: Iranian Foreign Minister Dr Javed Zarif called on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Minister for Interior Ch Nisar Ali Khan and Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa separately on Wednesday.

Both the sides agreed to restore hotline contact between Pakistan and Iran and constitute operational committees at various levels to alleviate reservations.

While talking to Iranian Foreign Minister Dr Javed Zarif, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed satisfaction over the increasing high level exchanges between Pakistan and Iran to strengthen the bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.

Nawaz Sharif maintained that both the countries would continue to expand economic interaction for promoting mutually-beneficial cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, energy and connectivity.

Prime Minister Nawaz underlined the need for concerted efforts from both the sides to achieve the target of $5 billion in the bilateral trade as soon as possible. Nawaz Sharif discussed with the Iranian minister a number of subjects including issues of peace and stability in the region.

On the tragic incident that took place in the Iranian province of Sistan of Balochistan involving martyrdom of 11 Iranian border security guards on 26 April, 2017, the prime minister conveyed Pakistan’s serious condolences to the government and people of Iran.

The Iranian foreign minister thanked the prime minister and the government of Pakistan for continued efforts for strengthening the bilateral relations and enhancing interaction in all areas, including trade and economic cooperation as well as border and security issues. He also conveyed the desire of the Iranian leadership and the government for continued efforts for growth in bilateral ties.

Earlier, in his meeting with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Javad Zarif said that his country attached great importance to its relations with Pakistan. He said that Iran believed in the unity of Muslim countries. Both Pakistan and Iran would have to work together for resolution of problems being faced by the Ummah. He said the two countries also needed to move forward with consensus on matters of international importance.

In his remarks, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan pointed out that Pakistan-Iran relations were rooted in common faith, history and geography. He said Iran is a fraternal country and the hearts of the peoples of two countries beat together. He made it clear that no hurdle would be allowed to come in the way of better relations between the two countries. The two ministers on behalf of their governments, reaffirmed their commitment to work closely for furthering Pak-Iran bilateral relations and promoting mutual cooperation encompassing all areas, mutual interest and concerns including effective border management, curbing drug trafficking and checking illegal cross border movement through better coordination, greater intelligence sharing and frequent interactions at political, military, security and at the level of various ministries.

They observed that that being the immediate neighbours, sharing strong cultural, religious and historical ties, Pakistan and Iran had no other option but to work hand in hand to overcome existing challenges at individual, regional as well as international level vis-à-vis the issues confronting the Muslim Ummah. To remove irritants and overcome issues of mutual concerns in the areas of border management, illegal human and drug trafficking, the ministers decided that operational committees at various levels would be constituted for identification of areas of cooperation, addressing mutual concerns and suggesting way forward for further enhancing bilateral cooperation between the two countries with special focus on border management, information and intelligence sharing and curbing illegal human and drug trafficking.

The two sides agreed in principle to revive hotline between the border security forces of the two countries in order to resolve any issues at border. The two sides were unanimous in their views that they were willing to go an extra mile for furthering Pak-Iran cooperation, especially in the areas of mutual interest and concerns for the two countries.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan observed that the visit of the Iranian foreign minister to Pakistan along with high-ranking officials would provide momentum to the existing bilateral relations and promoting multifaceted cooperation, on one hand, and finding the way forward for solution to the irritants affecting the bilateral relations.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and Iran agreed on improving the bilateral border coordination to deny any space to the terrorists, at a meeting held between Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif Khonsari and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the General Headquarters.

Issues of bilateral interest and regional security were discussed, the Inter-Services Public Relations press release said. In the meeting, tremendous bilateral cooperation potential was identified in various fields.

The visiting dignitary appreciated the efforts of Pakistan and Pakistan Army against terrorism. The COAS said Pakistan was committed to have lasting relations with Iran and would keep up its efforts to reduce friction amongst brotherly Muslim countries.

APP adds: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif along with his delegation called on National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua on Wednesday and discussed the bilateral relations and the issue of recent border attack.

The national security adviser offered his deepest condolence on the border incident in which several Iranian guards were martyred. Janjua said, "Pakistan and Iran are strength of each other." He reiterated that Pakistan saw a great future with Iran and vehemently condemned the terrorist attack, adding Pakistan stood united with Iran to curb the menace of terrorism.

He briefed the foreign minister on the security situation along the border and how the two sides need to make efforts to harden their stance against those who are involved in terrorism, smuggling, human and drug trafficking.

He reassured the Iranian side of persistent efforts of Pakistan to work against those who are hurting the common interests of both the countries. Pakistan could neither approve nor support any group who works against Iran, he underscored.

The Iranian foreign minister said Pakistan had always stood with Iran in difficult times. "Whenever we have any problem we count on Pakistan and we cannot allow our relationship to be ruined by a small group of terrorists."

He stressed the need for establishing effective joint mechanisms at local and national levels. He said more regular meetings should be held at different levels to resolve mutual irritants.


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