ASHGABAT - President Asif Ali Zardari Thursday called for early convening of the fourth Pakistan-Iran-Afghanistan Trilateral Summit and assured that Pakistan was fully supportive of the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
Talking to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad here after participating in the International Nowruz Conference, the president said as neighbours, Pakistan and Iran had shared objectives in the region and the two countries needed to work together to confront shared challenges and issues.
The three countries have been holding trilateral summits since 2009 to expand socio-economic cooperation. The last one was held at Islamabad on February 17, 2012.
The President said on Afghanistan, there was a need to have greater coordination to promote peace and reconciliation.
He said the seventh trilateral meeting with Turkey on Afghanistan in December 2012 was very successful.
The two leaders observed that Nowruz had provided them a good opportunity to meet again and recalled their last two meetings in February and March which they termed as epoch-making.
President Zardari said the Iran Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline symbolised fraternal relationship between the two countries and described it a leap forward in their bilateral relations.
The president said that peace pipeline would serve mutual interests and was not against any country. He said Pakistan was committed to timely completion of the IP gas pipeline. He said a number of other economic projects were in pipeline between Iran and Pakistan, including electricity import and wheat export, rail and road connectivity.
He expressed the hope that opening of a Pakistani Consulate General in Bandar Abbas and Cultural Centre in Tehran would contribute to promotion of trade and tourism between the two countries.
He said visa facilitation and opening of the new border posts at Mand-Pishin and Gabd-Reemdan to connect Karachi and Gwadar with Chahbahar and Bandar Abbas through the Coastal Highway were important steps to connect the two countries.
The President expressed the hope that both the border crossings would be opened at the earliest.
He said these crossing points would allow goods trucks reach Iran from Karachi, in one day.
Discussing militancy and terrorism, the president said terrorism and the mindset behind it was a common enemy and observed that the mindset needed to be defeated for defeating terrorism.
President Zardari said that Pakistan and Iran were not only neighbors but relations between the two countries were also based on common bonds of history, culture and faith.
The president said that Pakistan highly valued its ties with the Iranian brethren and the people of Pakistan had special attachment with their Iranian brethren.
Earlier in Ashgabat, addressing the opening session of the International Conference on Nowruz festival at the Rukhyat Palace on Thursday, President Zardari urged greater regional cooperation in security and counter-terrorism, collaboration in energy and offered the Central Asian Republics to use Gwadar Port for trade with rest of the world.
The president said that the region was of great geo-strategic importance and there was a need for a robust road and rail linkage to enable the countries fully exploit their natural resources. In this regard, Pakistan is ready to play its role, he added.
“We are willing to facilitate transportation of LNG from Central Asia to South East Asia and other world markets. The latest and modern seaport of Pakistan at Gwadar is the shortest route for Central Asian States to the Arabian Sea,” the President said.
President Zardari said that Gwadar also offered excellent port facilities for export of LNG and other products.
“We are also ready to provide safe transit of piped gas to other neighbouring countries,” he added.
Zardari said Pakistan was keen to implement the projects of energy connectivity like Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) and the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline.
Zardari said there was also a need to strengthen security and counter-terrorism cooperation in the region.
He said Pakistan firmly believed that peace and stability was most important for economic progress and development. “We are keen to promote friendly relations with all, especially our neighbours and other regional countries. We are ready to work together with them for peace, progress and prosperity in the region,” he said. He said that connectivity through rail, road and air links was important not only within the region but also beyond.
He said the combined strength of common bonds could produce miracles, which could lead to closer cooperation for common economic development. “We particularly need closer cooperation in trade, communication, transportation, energy and infrastructure,” the president added.
The leaders at the International Nowruz Festival, also expressed the resolve of 300 million people to work together for peace, dignity and respect of humanity.
Iranian President Ahmadinejad said many countries were trying to interfere in the affairs of other countries in order to concentrate their wealth and leave them poor.
He stressed justice and equality in all affairs with all countries of the world and called for sustainable development.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Afghanistan was closely cooperating with Pakistan in fighting terror.
President Zardari and the other delegates were later driven to the site of the festival around 45 km south of Ashgabat, where they witnessed a number of cultural and folk traditions.