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Pakistan and Iran set on $5bn trade in five-year plan, discuss security, Afghanistan and oil pipeline

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ISLAMABAD: The Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visiting Pakistan and his Pakistani counterpart Bilawal Bhutto Zardari announced at a press conference together at the Pakistani Foreign Office here the other day, that they would maintain their common border as one of “peace and friendship”, emphasizing early completion of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.

The Iranian and Pakistani foreign ministers set $5 billion target for bilateral trade in a five-year trade cooperation plan.

Besides discussing the human rights situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Bilawal Bhutto thanking Iran for its support on the issue, , the Pakistani FM called the joint inauguration of Mand-Pishin border marketplace and Gabd-Polan electricity project an affirmation of Iran and Pakistan’s collective commitment to finding collaborative solutions that benefit the people of both countries.

“We consider this as a first step towards strengthening our multidimensional cooperation especially in the economic domain. Today, countless schools, hospitals and households in Gwadar are run on electricity being provided by Iran,” Bilawal Bhutto said.

Besides announcing the bilateral trade target of US$ 5 billion, FM Bilawal also announced

i)a Five-Year Trade Cooperation Plan between Pakistan and Iran (2023-28) which envisages removing impediments in bilateral trade, finalisation of the FTA and linking both countries’ private sectors;

(ii) Protocol on Bilateral Economic Consultations, encompassing the sectoral discussions already held between the two sides;

(iii) Protocol on the 3rd meeting of the Joint Investment Committee (JIC) between Pakistan and Iran, on issue of bilateral investments.

(vi) Humanitarian issues concerning prisoners and fishermen in each other’s jails.

“We have decided to repatriate all ‘sentenced’ persons in respective jails, to release all fishermen in custody in Pakistan and Iran, to waive fines imposed on them and to release their vessels. The two sides will also exchange lists of prisoners to expedite the release etc,” Bilawal Bhutto said.

Pakistan and Iran also agreed to continue their active engagement to advance efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan and to promote the well-being and prosperity of the Afghan people. The agreed Afghanistan’s internal politics etc affected Iran and Pakistan, which was why Iran’s special representative on Afghanistan was in the Iranian delegation that visited the Pakistani Foreign Office.

The Iranian FM explained that most of the discussion during the visit to Iran by Pakistan’s army chief was devoted to security concerns, and the common borders of the three neighbors.

Both sides also agreed to continue cooperation to counter Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.

Bilawal Bhutto said Iran and Pakistan must continue to lobby for a ban on provocative actions such as burning of holy books etc.

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