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Pakistan eyes $5 billion trade with Iran in five years



Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian witness the signing of memoranda of understanding between Pakistan and Iran in Islamabad on Thursday. — Twitter/@ForeignOfficePk

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan chalked out a five-year trade cooperation plan with Iran on Thursday, setting up a target of $5 billion for bilateral trade. 

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the plan was aimed at removing impediments in bilateral trade, finalising Free Trade Agreement and establishing institutional linkages between the private sectors of both countries.

He made these comments while addressing a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian in Islamabad today.

“I am confident that the steps we are taking today, will chart the course for a long-term durable economic partnership between our two countries in the months and years ahead,” the foreign minister told the media persons after two leaders held delegation-level talks in a meeting.

He said during their meeting, they had agreed to prioritise the operationalisation of the five remaining border markets by the end of this year.

Bilawal said Pakistan and Iran had decided to repatriate all the sentenced prisoners as per provisions of existing agreements between the two sides. It has also been decided to set free fishermen in custody in Pakistan and Iran and to waive off any fine imposed by the authorities of both countries for the release of their vessels.

The foreign minister said the two sides will exchange lists of prisoners to put into practice this understanding expeditiously.

The meeting also discussed the grave human rights situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

Bilawal thanked the Iranian leadership for its firm and consistent support of the legitimate cause of the Kashmiri people.

Regarding the situation in Afghanistan, both sides agreed to continue their active engagement to advance peace and stability in Afghanistan to promote the well-being and prosperity of Afghan brothers and sisters.

They also agreed to continue their cooperation to counter Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.

“There has been an unfortunate series of Islamophobic acts and events across Europe, and not just isolated events but repeated and premeditated provocations. In my view, these are not only hate speech but would endanger provoking violence.”

In his remarks, the Iranian FM emphasised the enhanced bilateral cooperation in the fields of economy, trade and tourism.

He said both countries were committed to increasing the bilateral trade to $5 billion and agreed to set up a special economic free trade region along the common border points.

Amir said the two countries will take immediate steps for the release of fishermen and their vessels.

Emphasising the completion of the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline, the Iranian FM said the project would serve the national interests of the two countries.

He also condemned the recent terrorist attack in Bajaur while extending sympathies with the people and government of Pakistan as well as the grieved families.

Calling for support to the people of Afghanistan, FM Amir said any situation in the country would have an impact on the neighbouring countries of Pakistan and Iran.

“Therefore, under any circumstances, it was the religious and humanitarian responsibility to extend support to the people of Afghanistan,” he added.

Both sides also signed agreements and memorandum of understanding (MoUs) of cooperation between Pakistan and Iran in various fields. 

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