ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan meets an Iranian delegation led by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Wednesday.
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan meets an Iranian delegation led by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Wednesday.

ISLAMABAD: Iran on Wednesday announced the opening of a border crossing point with Pakistan for facilitating trade, as the two countries agreed to deepen their bilateral cooperation.

The announcement was made by Iranian Foreign Minister Dr Javad Zarif during his meetings in Islamabad. He was on a two-day visit to Pakistan, leading a senior delegation comprising political and economic experts.

The Iranian foreign minister, who arrived on Tuesday evening, met Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa.

This was his fourth visit to Pakistan since the PTI came to power about two-and-a-half years ago.

The Foreign Office said the trip was part of the regular high-level exchanges between the two countries aimed at strengthening bilateral relations and developing a better understanding of each other’s perspective on regional issues.

Javad Zarif holds meetings with PM, FM, army chief

Dr Zarif told the Pakistani leaders that Iran would open the Rimdan crossing point, located about 130km from Chahbahar port in its Sistan and Baluchestan province, next week. He expressed the hope that Pakistani authorities too would open their side of the border — Gabd crossing point — so that trade could be promoted.

Rimdan border crossing is believed to be suitably located for export and import of fruits, livestock, construction material, and petroleum products. The Iranian side of the crossing point has been equipped with modern communication systems, livestock and vegetable quarantine and other required facilities for import of mango and livestock.

Dr Zarif urged Pakistan to open Pishin-Mand crossing as well.

Prime Minister Khan, in his meeting with Dr Zarif, said that increased bilateral cooperation, particularly better trade and economic ties, would be mutually beneficial for the two countries.

Foreign Minister Qureshi, in his meeting with Dr Zarif at the Foreign Office, apprised the latter of the steps taken by the Pakistan government to develop trade and economic cooperation with Iran. He said the government had decided to promote cross-border exports between the two countries.

The two countries also agreed to set up a joint economic commission for steering bilateral trade and economic ties.

The establishment of border markets and crossing points was also discussed during Dr Zarif’s meeting with Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa.

Border security

Border security was the other major agenda item during Dr Zarif’s meetings.

The Iranian minister, speaking after his meeting at the Foreign Office, expressed satisfaction over the steps taken by Pakistan for improved border security.

Earlier, in his meeting with Mr Qureshi, the Iranian minister called for continuous consultations on security matters.

He also praised the military cooperation between the two countries in his meeting with Gen Bajwa.

The army chief, during the conversation, observed that enhanced Pakistan-Iran cooperation would have positive impact on regional peace and stability.

Dr Zarif reaffirmed Iran’s steadfast support for the Kashmir cause.

Foreign Minister Qureshi informed Dr Zarif about the worsening humanitarian and human rights situation in occupied Jammu and Kashmir. He highlighted India’s illegal actions to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory.

Mr Qureshi recalled Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s steadfast support for the Kashmir cause.

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2020

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