Pakistan, Iran agree to multiply economic ties

Chalk out five-year trade cooperation plan with $5b target

ISLAMABAD  -  Pakistan and Iran yesterday set a $5 billion target for bilateral trade, out­lining a five-year trade cooperation plan to strengthen ties.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir Abdollahi­an, discussed removing trade barriers, finalizing the Free Trade Agree­ment, and fostering insti­tutional linkages between the private sectors of both nations. They also aimed to operationalize five re­maining border markets by year-end. Both the countries decided to re­patriate sentenced pris­oners according to ex­isting agreements and release fishermen held in custody, waiving any im­posed fines. They pledged support for peace and stability in Afghanistan, countering Islamopho­bia, and enhancing bilat­eral cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, and tourism. Memoran­dums of understanding were signed to further co­operation in various sec­tors. Speaking at a joint news conference after the meeting, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and 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 of institution­al linkages between the private sectors of both countries. In his remarks, Iranian Foreign Minis­ter Hossein Amir empha­sised the enhanced bilat­eral cooperation in the fields of economy, trade and tourism. He said both the 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 Pak-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.

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