ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran on Wednesday agreed to explore new avenues of collaboration in the fields of aviation including direct flight, revival of gas pipeline project and expansion of trade between the two nations.

The understanding was reached during a meeting between Commerce Minister Naveed Qamar and visiting Chairman of the Commission of National Security and Foreign Policy of the Majlis of the Islamic Republic of Iran Vahid Jalalzadeh, who is leading a high-level delegation to Pakistan to discuss various measures to promote bilateral economic relations between the two countries.

An official announcement issued after the meeting said that both sides underlined the need to strengthen economic ties and emphasised the importance of increased connectivity.

Mr Jalalzadeh proposed the initiation of direct flights between Iran and Pakistan to enhance travel and business opportunities.

Mr Qamar acknowledged the significance of this proposal and expressed his support for establishing direct flights as a means to facilitate trade and promote people-to-people exchanges.

During the meeting, the discussions also touched upon the long-standing issue of the Pak-Iran Gas pipeline. Mr Qamar stressed the importance of expediting the project, as it holds immense potential for energy cooperation between the two countries.

He pledged his commitment to resolve any obstacles and move forward with the pipeline, which would bring substantial benefits to both nations.

Recognising the current trade volume of approximately $2 billion as insufficient, Mr Jalalzadeh urged the need to take solid steps to increase it to a multi-billion-dollar level. However, there is no official trade between the two countries owing to the non-availability of banking channels and restrictions.

Mr Qamar emphasised the importance of opening new border markets and implementing a barter trade system to facilitate greater commercial exchange. These measures, he believed, would significantly boost trade volume.

Mr Jalalzadeh also invited Mr Qamar to visit Iran.

The inauguration of one of the six crossings at the Pasheen Border on May 18 by the prime minister of Pakistan and the president of Iran also came under discussion.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2023

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