Pakistan, Iran chalk out five-year trade plan; target $5 b trade volume

ISLAMABAD,(APP): Pakistan and Iran on Thursday set a target of $5 billion for bilateral trade as the two countries chalked out a five-year trade cooperation plan to enhance cooperation.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, addressing a joint press stakeout with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said the five-year trade cooperation plan was aimed at removing impediments in bilateral trade, finalizing the Free Trade Agreement and establishing institutional linkages between the private sectors of both countries.

“I am confident that the steps we are taking today, will chart the course for a long-term durable economic partnership between our two countries in the months and years ahead,” the foreign minister told the media after the two leaders held a meeting as well as the delegation-level talks.

He said during their meeting, they had agreed to prioritize the operationalization of the five remaining border markets by the end of the current year.

Foreign Minister Bilawal said Pakistan and Iran had decided to repatriate all the sentenced prisoners as per provisions of existing agreements between two sides. It was also decided to set free fishermen in custody in Pakistan and Iran and to waive off any fine imposed by the authorities of both countries for the release of their vessels.

He said the two sides would exchange lists of prisoners to put into practice the understanding expeditiously.

The meeting also discussed the grave human rights situation in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Foreign Minister Bilawal thanked the Iranian leadership for its firm and consistent support of the legitimate cause of the Kashmiri people.

Regarding the situation in Afghanistan, both sides agreed to continue their active engagement with a view of advancing peace and stability in the neighbouring country to promote the well-being and prosperity of Afghan brothers and sisters.

They also agreed to continue their cooperation to counter Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.

“There has been an unfortunate series of Islamophobic acts and events across Europe, and not just isolated events but repeated and premeditated provocations. In my view, these are not only hate speech but would endanger provoking violence.”

In his remarks, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir emphasised the enhanced bilateral cooperation in the fields of economy, trade and tourism.

He said both countries were committed to increasing the bilateral trade to $5 billion and agreed to set up a special economic free trade region along the common border points.

Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the two countries would take immediate steps for the release of fishermen and their vessels.

Emphasising the completion of the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline, the Iranian foreign minister said the project would definitely serve the national interests of the two countries.

He condemned the recent terrorist attack in Bajaur and expressed sympathies with the people and the Government of Pakistan as well as the aggrieved families.

Calling for support to the people of Afghanistan, he said any situation in Afghanistan would have an impact on the neighbouring countries of Pakistan and Iran. Therefore, under any circumstances, it was the religious and humanitarian responsibility to extend support to the people of Afghanistan.

Both sides also signed agreements and memorandums of understanding of cooperation between Pakistan and Iran in various fields. The two foreign ministers oversaw the ceremony.

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