Monday May 20, 2024

US State Dept avoids commenting on warming Pakistan-Iran ties

Spokesperson says US prioritises Pakistan's development

By Wajid Ali Syed 
May 20, 2023
Flags of the US and Pakistan. — Radio Pakistan/File
Flags of the US and Pakistan. — Radio Pakistan/File

A State Department spokesperson on Saturday said he had "no comments" on the Pakistan-Iran ties when asked about the growing economic relations between the two countries.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Iranian President Seyed Ebrahim Raisi — in a bid to boost bilateral trade — jointly inaugurated the Mand-Pishin border sustenance market and 100MW Gwadar transmission line.

Today, in response to Geo News' question regarding the development, a US State Department spokesperson said: "We are aware of this meeting. We do not have any comment to provide on the engagement."

Washington, however, reiterated the importance of its ties with Islamabad, saying that ensuring Pakistan's economic growth, energy security and environmental sustainability remained a priority for US' bilateral relationship with Pakistan and was a "cornerstone" of the Green Alliance.

For the past 20 years, the US has been at the forefront of investing in Pakistan, with direct foreign investments of $250 million during the last fiscal year, 2021-22, the spokesperson said, adding that investments by US firms were helping Pakistan to get expanded access to a cleaner, more resilient energy supply.

The spokesperson went on to say that the wind turbines, control systems and equipment from General Electric (GE) — a US-based multinational conglomerate — are widely used in Pakistan.

The use of these devices will increase Pakistan's renewable energy potential, said the official.

The State Department further stated that it was for the first time that American technology was being installed at Mangla Power Station. Moreover, GE Hydro France was supplying eight 135 MW generation units, it added.

The spokesperson said that the same equipment could be used for other larger dams under construction, adding that the US was also working for the restoration and construction of Mangla and Tarbela dams.

Border projects

The inauguration of the Mand-Pishin border sustenance marketplace is expected to provide a thriving platform for increasing cross-border trade, fostering economic growth, and opening up new avenues of opportunity for local businesses.

It should be noted that this is one of the six border markets which has been constructed along the Pak-Iran border.

After the inauguration, PM Shehbaz Sharif and the Iranian president held a meeting to discuss bilateral ties and cooperation.

Following the “very productive and positive” meeting, the prime minister told a gathering of local elders that the two sides had decided to move forward in the areas of trade, investment, information technology, agriculture and other sectors.

The two leaders also decided to exploit the potential for cooperation in power transmission.

He told the gathering that on his suggestion, the Iranian president also assured to move forward for enhancing cooperation in the solar energy sector.

The prime minister said that during the meeting, he also put forward suggestions regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and that the two sides would take measures for the implementation of the decisions taken in the meeting.

The prime minister, while speaking about the transmission line, said the project faced immense delay in the past but the incumbent government ensured its completion in the record time. Iranian President Raisi also took a keen interest in the project, he added.

He said the matter related to the power tariff has also been settled amicably with the Iranian government, he added.

“This is a great day for Pakistan-Iran friendship and will prove a milestone for the development of the two countries,” the prime minister remarked.