President stresses enhanced Pak-Iran ties for regional development

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday said promotion of intra-regional and inter-regional connectivity was a key to the socio-economic development and stressed that Iran has a major role to play along with Pakistan due to their geo-strategic locations.

Talking to Interior Minister of Iran Mostafa Mohammad Najjar at the Aiwan- e-Sadr, the President said the two countries needed to further deepen cooperation in all areas particularly trade, energy, security, communication and infrastructure.

President Zardari emphasized the need for forging a partnership between two countries to overcome the challenges in the way of realization of full existing potential.

He said the resource shortages, inadequate trade, smuggling, drug trafficking, border management and security were among the few challenges that the two countries needed to address together.

He said that Pakistan attaches high priority to early completion of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and 1,000 MW Taftan-Quetta power transmission line.

The President appreciated agreement on opening of Iranian Consulate General in Bandar Abbas and establishment of a Pakistani Cultural Centre in Tehran.

He said that the agreement between the two countries to raise the bilateral trade to $10 billion was a doable achievement. In this regard, currency swap agreement and initiatives such as export of meat from Pakistan to Iran can have an immediate impact, he said.

The President said militancy had threatened regional and global peace and needed to be tackled collectively. He said, “By providing our people education and economic opportunities, we can effectively take on the challenge of militancy on one hand and wean away our youth from falling trap into the hands of militants.”

The President appreciated support and assistance of Iranian brethren for the flood affected people.

The Iranian minister said Iran would donate $100 million for the rehabilitation of the rain victims.

It may be recalled that during Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s recent visit to Iran,Minister Najjar had said that he would visit Pakistan within a week along with a planeload of relief goods for the rain affected people of Pakistan.

Mostafa Najjar was accompanied by Iranian Ambassador Mashallah Shakeri, Mahdi Mohammadifard, Deputy Interior Minister, Hasan Ghadami, Deputy Minister and Head of Crisis Management Organization and Faghih, head of the Red Crescent Society.

The Pakistan side included: Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, Secretary General to the President, Salman Faruqui, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir,Interior Secretary K.M. Siddiq Akber and other senior officials.