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Economic ties top priority, says Khatami

December 24, 2002

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ISLAMABAD, Dec 23: President Mohammad Khatami of Iran on Monday declared that Iran’s borders with Pakistan “are the borders of security, peace and friendship.”

“We are quite confident of the security of our eastern borders, and Pakistan, too, is keen on (ensuring) the security of its common border with Iran,” he said in his speech at a banquet hosted in his honour by President Pervez Musharraf.

In our neighbourhood, nevertheless, there have existed various issues and problems that have left harmful impact on both of us. “To solve these problems, we are in need of further cooperation.”

Fortunately, he said, both the governments were determined to solve all issues and difficulties that “linger in our mutual relations.”

“We consider our commercial and economic relations with Pakistan (as being) of top priority; and we sincerely hope for the extension of these relations, both quantitatively and qualitatively.”

The recent economic reforms in Iran, the valuable experience we have acquired in the industrial and economic fields, and the new role we have afforded to the private sector in our economy, have prepared the ground for enhancing of our cooperation in these areas, Khatami said.

Iran, he said, had been trying to encourage its private sector to do business with its neighbouring countries. “However, we still have to provide certain facilities to them, so that they find it economically beneficial,” he said.

Iran and Pakistan have, throughout history, been very good friends and very good neighbours, with least instances and causes for discord, President Khatami said.

“Our regional cooperation is manifold. We work in several regional organizations side by side. Our interests are the same and the dangers threatening us are very much alike. The security of Pakistan has always been of great importance to us and we have, therefore, been quite prepared to further enhance our all-round strategic cooperation with Pakistan.”

Fortunately, he said, the Mutual Economic Cooperation Commission “has prepared the ground” for our economic activities. The Thirteenth Session of the Mutual Economic Cooperation Commission, held last week in Islamabad, “has already completed its work with great success; and we certainly “hope that the agreements reached will be smoothly put into execution and followed up by the people in charge.”

“There are numerous contexts for the development of our mutual scientific, research, and technological relations as well; and we certainly hope that the development of these relations will soon gain momentum, and that they will be expanded rapidly,” he said.

With the assistance and cooperation of our Pakistani friends, “the present visit will help us identify some practical ways of further promoting our mutual relations so that we will soon witness the opening of many new horizons for our future bilateral and multilateral relations,” Khatami said.

In his address on the occasion, President Musharraf hoped that Iran will help resolve the long-running Kashmir dispute in line with the UN resolutions.

He called for a Pakistan-Iran coordinated strategy to support the peace and development process in the war-ravaged Afghanistan.

“We deeply appreciate Iran’s efforts to defuse tensions between Pakistan and India,” he said.

He said India should also refrain from committing atrocities against the Kashmiri people aimed at frustrating their struggle for freedom from its occupation.

He said Pakistan and Iran had suffered the most from the instability in Afghanistan. Peace and stability there was therefore not only in the interest of its people but also in the national interests of both Iran and Pakistan.

He called for working on a coordinated strategy of supporting peace and development process in Afghanistan.

Earlier, President Khatami and his delegation were accorded a warm welcome by Foreign Minister Mian Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri on their arrival at the PAF Chaklala base.—APP