Pakistan, Iran vow to mend ties, enhance trade after airstrikes

Pakistani and Iranian leaders on Monday vowed to strengthen relations and enhance bilateral trade to $10 billion a year, leaving behind recent airstrikes against each other and ignoring possible new sanctions against the Persian republic.

‘We have agreed to enhance our bilateral trade volume to $10 billion (a year),’ Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi said at a presser with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad.

Raisi, who arrived in Pakistan on three-day visit, called for more action at borders to increase trade with Pakistan, in defiance of ‘illegal and unfair’ sanctions by the West against his country.

‘Time has come to … develop our shared border into the hub of trade and prosperity,’ Sharif said, echoing Raisi’s sentiments.

The comments came after both leaders witnessed the signing of at least eight draft agreements on security, trade, energy and culture.

Raisi visited Pakistan months after the two neighbours launched tit-for-tat airstrikes into each other’s territories.

Pakistani fight
er jets targeted alleged hideouts of nationalist separatists in Iran in January, a day after Iranian drones hit Islamist fighters in cross-border strikes.

Both nations have since restored diplomatic ties and resuming bilateral trade following a brief suspension.

Raisi’s visit marks the first by any world leader since Sharif assumed office following the February national elections.

The visit aims to mend relations with the Sunni-dominant nations as tensions escalate between Tehran and Israel due to recent reciprocal attacks.

Western nations including the US are reportedly contemplating new sanctions against Iran, a move that can jeopardize its deals with Pakistan including a project to build a trans-national pipeline for the supply of gas.

Security experts said Pakistan, a political ally of Sunni nations in the Gulf like Saudi Arabia, would be a significant player if Iran-Israel conflict spreads to the region.

A high-level Saudi delegation led by the kingdom’s top diplomat also visited Pakistan last week
to look for the prospects of the investment in the South Asian nation.

‘These visits are somehow linked to the changing security dynamics in the region, although they apparently look for trade and investments,’ said Irfan Shehzad, who leads Eurasian Century Institute think tank in Islamabad.

The Iranian president is accompanied by his spouse and a high-level delegation comprising the foreign minister and other members of the Cabinet, senior officials as well as a large business delegation.

He is scheduled to visit the major cities of Lahore and Karachi where local governments have declared public holidays.

Source: Ghana News Agency

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