0903 GMT January 15, 2021
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif held talks with Pakistani officials during a trip the neighboring country.
During his meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, the two sides exchanged views on bilateral ties and the expansion of economic relations, especially the strengthening of cross-border trade.
Zarif and Khan stressed the importance of Tehran-Islamabad cooperation and partnership for regional peace and stability.
The two sides also called for joint efforts to counter Islamophobia, help resolve the problems of the Muslim world and strengthen relations between them.
Heading a political-economic delegation, Zarif arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday to discuss bilateral and regional issues with Pakistani officials.
Concern over Islamophobia
Earlier in the day, Zarif met his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
In the meeting, Zarif pointed to the deep historical and cultural commonalities between the two countries and expressed Iran’s readiness for a comprehensive development of relations with Pakistan.
He welcomed a decision by the Pakistani government to open new border markets to develop trade relations between the two countries, and announced Iran’s readiness to reach an agreement with its eastern neighbor on devising new methods on trade exchanges.
Zarif also pointed out the importance of strengthening the security of the two countries' borders and reaffirmed the need for continuous consultations in this regard.
During the meeting, which was first attended by the two top diplomats and later included other senior officials from both sides, Tehran and Islamabad also agreed to expand bilateral cooperation, and to boost efforts to beef up regional peace and contribute to the peace process in Afghanistan.
The foreign ministers said that long-lasting peace in the country is crucial to maintaining peace and stability in the region.
They also expressed deep concern over rising trend of Islamophobia in certain European countries, stressing that blasphemy was not acceptable in the garb of freedom of expression. Zarif and Qureshi agreed to undertake efforts to counter this negative trend.
Qureshi described Iran as an important friend and neighbor of Pakistan and said his country has taken practical steps to develop trade and economic cooperation with Iran.
“The Pakistani government has decided to help cross-border trade between the two countries,” he said.
“Pakistan and Iran enjoy close relations founded on mutual trust, strengthened by faith & culture. Look forward to the further growth of close bilateral cooperation across a diversity of fields,” he tweeted.
Qureshi also stressed the need to use the capacities of cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad in regional and international forums toward strengthening bilateral interactions, trade, investment, security and other areas of mutual interest.
Referring to the developments in Afghanistan and the need for peace in the neighboring country of Iran and Pakistan, Qureshi said that Afghanistan's security and stability are the key to peace in the region, and underscored the need for the promotion of intra-Afghan dialogue by Afghanistan's leaders and other stakeholders in the country who can help restore peace in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani foreign minister also stressed the importance of establishing peace and security at borders and stressed that his country would not allow any hostile actions against Iran.
Zarif also held talks with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The two underlined the need for boosting bilateral security cooperation and border protection efforts.
Zarif and Bajwa discussed issues of bilateral significance, including the fight against terrorism, strengthening defense and border cooperation, and expanding military relations between Iran and Pakistan.
They also exchanged views on the latest security developments in the region, especially the situation in Afghanistan.
The two sides further stressed the need for developing all-out cooperation between Tehran and Islamabad, particularly in the field of security and protection of common frontiers, which have been named the borders of peace and friendship.
Press TV and Pakistani media contributed to this story.