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Iran president pledges to strengthen ties with Pakistan – Times of India

WorldIran president pledges to strengthen ties with Pakistan - Times of India



ISLAMABAD: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi announced Monday during a joint press conference with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad that the two countries have resolved to increase their trade volume to $10 billion, stating the current level as “unacceptable”.
Raisi is on a three-day visit, the first by any foreign leader since Pakistan’s controversial general elections on February 8.This also comes in the backdrop of Iran’s recent attack on Israel, involving more than 300 drones and missiles. The visit is closely watched amid ongoing tensions with Israel, and US sanctions.
“We are committed to strengthening relations at high levels. We have decided to increase economic, commercial, and cultural relations between Pakistan and Iran,” Raisi said.
Sharif echoed the sentiment. “We have to keep this relationship strong despite the challenges we face,” he said, commending Iran for its firm stand on the humanitarian situation in Gaza and urging for an immediate cessation of hostilities.
Pakistan and Iran share a 900km border, which is susceptible to unlawful crossings, smuggling, and militant infiltration. Both nations accuse each other of failing to prevent terrorist organisations from seeking refuge on their territory and conducting cross-border assaults.
Last Jan, Iran launched missile strikes against anti-Iranian militant hideouts in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, prompting Islamabad to retaliate with strikes on bases of anti-Pakistan militants operating from Iranian soil. The exchange of strikes raised concerns about larger conflicts and regional instability.
The Iranian President is accompanied by his spouse, the foreign minister, cabinet members, and business representatives.
Analysts said Raisi’s visit will also address financial and legal issues related to the construction of a gas pipeline between the two countries. Despite signing an agreement in June 2009 for the pipeline to export Iranian natural gas to Pakistan, construction on the Pakistani side has not started, possibly due to US pressure as Iran’s energy sector faces sanctions for its nuclear programme. Iran’s attack on Israel further complicates Pakistan’s efforts to build the pipeline.





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