Islamabad: Pakistan and Iran have decided to boost bilateral economic ties, including exploring possibility of enhancing sea trade through better connectivity between the strategic Gwadar port and the Iranian port of Chabahar which is being developed with India’s financial assistance.
The possibility of better connectivity between Gwadar and Chabahar was explored during talks between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who arrived here on Friday on his maiden two-day Pakistan visit.
Significantly, last month the Indian government cleared proposals for development of the strategic Chabahar port.
The Chabahar port would give India a sea-land access route to Afghanistan bypassing Pakistan. The agreement on India’s assistance for the port’s development was signed last year.
Iran and Pakistan also vowed to enhance bilateral ties, including in the energy sector and open two more border crossings to boost trade.
Iranian President Rouhani said, during the talks, the two leaders took stock of the existing state of relations and how to enhance economic interaction. He said they talked about issues relating to energy, gas and export of electricity.
Rouhani said they also discussed ways and means to increase bilateral trade. He said there were vast opportunities to increase economic cooperation.
Rouhani said, during talks with Sharif, they explored the possibility of having closer relationship and better connectivity between Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Balochistan province and the Iranian port of Chabahar.
Pakistan and Iran reaffirmed their resolve to enhance the level of bilateral cooperation in diverse fields, including trade, economy and energy, Sharif and Rouhani told reporters after their wide-ranging talks on Friday.
Sharif said the two countries have decided to open two new border crossing points to encourage trade and economic activities and facilitate people to people contacts, Radio Pakistan reported.
He hoped that the new crossing points would greatly reduce the travel time and contribute towards economic integration.
Rohani’s visit assumes significance after sanctions over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme were lifted earlier this year. The withdrawal of sanctions has opened new avenues for Iran to enhance its economic interaction with the rest of the world.
Sharif noted that it was his third meeting with Rouhani, which reflected the warmth and depth of bilateral ties.