TEHRAN, June 14 (APP): Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday reiterating the country’s commitment to strengthen bilateral relations with Iran in diverse areas said that building close relations with Iran remained Pakistan’s high priority.
“Iran is a very important neighbor of Pakistan, one with which we share immutable historic and fraternal bonds. For the Prime Minister, and for me, building close relations with Iran remains a high priority,” the Foreign Minister said while addressing a joint press conference along with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian.
“I can say with great satisfaction that we continue to build upon the exceedingly positive and constructive relations enjoyed by our two countries,” he added.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who reached the Iranian capital earlier in the day on a two-day visit at the invitation of Foreign Minister Dr. Amir Abdollahian said during their consultations today, they took stock of the entire gamut of bilateral relations.
The two sides identified ways to take their relationship further to match its true potential, particularly in the areas of trade, investments, connectivity, border management, facilitation for Zaireen, cultural and educational cooperation, and enhancing people-to-people exchanges, he added.
The Foreign Minister said he conveyed a message of goodwill and cordiality to Iranian brothers and sisters, adding, he was glad that they have come closer to resolving one of the major obstacles in expansion of bilateral trade through operationalizing barter trade mechanism.
He said that the formalization of cross-border exchanges through opening of new border crossings and promotion of trade through border marketplaces were the measures of their r shared commitment to provide opportunities for enhanced economic and commercial activities.
“This will greatly help in improving the livelihood and welfare of the people in the border areas,” he added.
The Foreign Minister said that another significant step towards strengthening bilateral relations was the commitment to strengthen energy cooperation through import of additional electricity from Iran.
He said that the two sides also discussed possibility of exchange of sentenced persons under the existing legal framework to allow them to complete their sentences in their respective countries.
“We appreciate Iran’s hospitality to receive and facilitate Pakistani pilgrims visiting Iran and have held useful discussions on creating additional facilities for these Zaireen, which form a bond of friendship and fraternity between the two countries,” he added.
The Foreign Minister said that they discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan, especially the dire humanitarian situation and economic fragility.
He said that Pakistan and Iran were directly affected by conflict and instability in Afghanistan. For four decades, they have hosted millions of Afghan refugees, he said, adding, as such, they have vested interest in a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.
The Foreign Minister said the two sides were unanimous in the view that Afghan people must be supported at this critical juncture, including through access to frozen financial assets.
“From the Afghan authorities, the world expects move towards inclusivity and effective counter-terrorism action,” he added.
The Foreign Minister said he also briefed his Iranian counterpart on the serious situation of human rights in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). “We are grateful for Iranian leadership’s steadfast support for the just cause of Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.
The Foreign Minister said they also discussed the rising trend of Islamophobia. “The derogatory remarks made by BJP officials in India have deeply offended Muslims across the world. It is time for international community to show a common resolve against xenophobia, intolerance and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief,” he maintained.
The Foreign Minister further emphasized the importance Pakistan attached to its relations with Iran and reiterated the country’s resolve to further strengthen it in all dimensions.