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.