EghtesadOnline: Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei underscored the need to adopt measures to strengthen ties between Tehran and Islamabad to counter hostile efforts aimed at driving a wedge between the two neighbors.
In a meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in Tehran on Monday, Ayatollah Khamenei pointed to the strong and historical bonds between the Iranian and Pakistani people and said, “Mutual ties have to be consolidated despite hostile efforts [to undercut them],” the Leader’s website reported.
Referring to militant attacks on Iranian and Pakistani security forces along the common border, the Leader said, “Terrorist groups that threaten the border security are armed and funded by adversaries who aim to poison relations between the two countries.”
The Pakistani premier said certain parties are opposed to the development of closer ties between Tehran and Islamabad, but “we will try to build stronger relations and remain in constant contact with the Iranian government”.
Earlier in the day, according to Financial Tribune, the Pakistani delegation held talks with President Hassan Rouhani and other top-level officials to explore ways of expanding relations, improving border security and enhancing energy and trade cooperation.
Rouhani said in a joint press conference with Khan that the visit is a turning point in their bilateral ties.
"Tehran and Islamabad are determined to enhance wide-ranging cooperation without being affected by third parties," he was quoted as saying by his website.
He expressed regret over recent tensions caused by violent terrorist activities.
Iran and Pakistan have been victims of cross-border attacks in recent months, which have cast a shadow on their ties, with both sides blaming each other for lack of control over terrorist activity conducted from their soil.
However, both states have worked toward easing tensions and agreed not to allow third parties to undermine their longstanding relationship.
"We are glad that Pakistan has designated all militant groups that conduct inhumane activity in the region as terrorists and is taking serious measures against them," Rouhani said.
In Monday's meeting, the two countries agreed to form and station joint rapid-response forces in border areas to combat terrorism.
Khan blamed terrorism for recent disputes between Iran and Pakistan.
"We should not allow militants to use the two countries' soil for terrorist activity," he emphasized.
The two sides also agreed to cooperate in restoring peace and security to neighboring Afghanistan, as both states have suffered the consequences of insecurity in this country.
Improvement of trade ties was another major agreement between the two neighbors.
Rouhani expressed Iran's readiness to supply Pakistan with oil, gas and electricity.
"Iran is prepared to take the necessary measures to connect gas pipelines to Pakistan. We are ready to increase our electricity export by 10 times," he added.
To help improve mutual trade, according to Rouhani, the two countries also aim to set up a barter mechanism so that import and export payments can be settled through a single account.
The Iranian side also showed willingness in expanding relations between the ports of Chabahar in Iran and Gwadar in Pakistan by connecting them via a railroad.
Pointing to the establishment of Economic Cooperation Organization by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, Rouhani said Tehran is interested in improving ties among the three states.
"We hope that the Istanbul-Islamabad train project will be conducted more actively so that Europe can be connected to Pakistan and China," he said.
Khan highlighted multiple capacities for cooperation, particularly in trade, energy and health sectors.
"Iran has made great progress in the health sector and we hope to use its experiences," he said.
A memorandum of understanding was also signed by the two countries' health ministers.