ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Iran on Thursday vowed enhanced cooperation in the fight against extremism and terrorism and for joint efforts to bring peace and stability to the region.
Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security Sartaj Aziz and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at a joint press conference, following a round of talks here at the Foreign Office, said both countries need to exploit the wide array of options available in economic cooperation, following the lifting of sanctions linked to Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iranian Foreign Minister said there were “massive opportunities for cooperation” and particularly identified the oil and gas, transportation, finance and banking sectors, in which the two countries can have increased cooperation.
He was also appreciative of Pakistan and said it has always been supportive with its stance on use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
“We will never forget out friends,” he said.
Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan enjoys close and cordial relations with Iran that were deeply rooted in history, culture and geography.
He also congratulated Iran on Tehran’s nuclear deal with the world powers and expressed the hope that its implementation would contribute to regional and international peace and security.
Aziz said the deal would also open new avenues of economic and commercial cooperation between Pakistan and Iran.
Zarif was also optimist about the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project that can see expeditious work. He said both the sides need to work on the technicalities so as to work out the issues that need to be resolved. He said both the sides have shown determination to complete the project.
Referring to his meeting with Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Adviser Sartaj Aziz he said they discussed bilateral ties and situation in the region and the Middle East. He said both the countries already have economic, security, cultural and border cooperation, that needs to be strengthened.
Zarif was appreciative of Pakistan’s “responsible role” in the region and said everyone needs to work together against extremism and terrorism.
“Sectarian divisions are instruments of division that help no Muslims,” he told the reporters.
He said Iran was willing to work with Pakistan in its efforts. against extremism and terrorism.
To a question the Iranian foreign minister said his country supports peace and security cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said Iran welcomes cooperation in the region to bring peace and stability.
He particularly mentioned the Daesh, which he said has made intrusions into Afghanistan and said all countries need to fight extremism and terrorism, that recognises no borders or religious.
“It is in the best interest of all to work together,” he said.
Regarding the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project, Zarif said Iran supports growth and development in Pakistan and said it was imperative to fight poverty and extremism in the region.
Sartaj Aziz to a question said the first round of talks between the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government made good progress, however regretted that the second round was disrupted because of death of Mullah Omar.
He said Pakistan was being guided with the Afghan priorities and his country would help Afghanistan in whatever way it could.
He regretted the spike in terrorist attacks inside Afghanistan after the cancellation of the talks and expressed the hope that the visit of the Afghan Foreign Minister and head of its intelligence agency NDS would help remove misunderstandings between the two countries.
Referring to the dialogue with India, Sartaj Aziz said he would be leaving for New Delhi on Aug 23.
“Its not a breakthrough on the Composite Dialogue, but ice-breaking on other issues,” he said.
To a question about terrorist attacks in Balochistan and incidents of firing along the Pakistan Iran border, Zarif termed these as “unfortunate” and stressed effective communication between the authorities on either side to prevent any incidents.
Sartaj Aziz said the terrorist incidents near and around the border were also compounded due to the nexus of drug smugglers and terrorists and said there was a need for strengthening border mechanism and patrolling.