Pakistan, Iran enjoying close, cordial relations: NA told

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 11 (APP): Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan said on Thursday that Pakistan and Iran were enjoying close and cordial relations which were based on historical bonds of culture, traditions, religion and ethnicity.

Speaking during question hour in the National Assembly, the minister said exchange of high level visits between states highlighted the importance respective countries give to each other in their inter-state relations.

He said Pakistan was engaged with Iran to bring regularity and enhance trade between the two countries.

However, he added, in practical there were still obstacle particularly in banking issues which were being resolved.

He said currently, Pakistan was importing 74 MW per day of electricity from Iran, adding two other big power projects had been conceived, namely, import of 100 MW electricity from Iran to Gwadar and import of 1000 MW, electricity from Iran to Quetta.

He recalled that in May 2014, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif undertook a bilateral visit to Iran and subsequently, at the invitation of the Prime Minister, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Pakistan in March 2016.

Similarly, he added the 9th Round of Bilateral Political Consultations was also recently held in Iran and the upwards trajectory of Pakistan-Iran relations was visible.

He said pursuant to the signing of JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) major economic sanctions on Iran had been lifted and both the countries stood to benefit in trade, power, energy, investment and financial sectors.

He said the total trade between the two countries was over US $ 1.2 billion during 2009-2010, adding this was, however, affected due to sanctions-related problems and it went down to USD 268 million in 2014-15.

He said during the Prime Minister’s visit to Tehran in May 2014, the leadership agreed to achieve a target of USD five billion in the next few years. Both the countries have also shown willingness to connect Iran with CPEC and emphasizing that the relationship between Gwadar and Chabahar ports, declared sister-ports, is cooperative.

He said progress was also being made on Iran Pakistan gas pipeline project and it would go a long way in alleviating energy shortages in Pakistan and contribute towards our economic and social development.