Pak-Iran trade volume ‘unacceptable’, to be increased to $10bn: Raisi


Iran and Pakistan have decided to increase the trade volume between the two countries to $10 billion, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday, adding that the existing volume was “not acceptable”.
Raisi — who is currently on a three-day visit to Pakistan — made the remarks during a joint press conference alongside Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif after the two held a meeting in Islamabad. The visit is the first of its kind by any head of state after the February 8 general elections.
“We are committed to strengthening relations at high levels. […] Economic and trade volume between Iran and Pakistan is not acceptable at all. We have decided as a first step to increase the trade volume between our two countries to $10bn,” he said.

At the outset of his address, the Iranian president “warmly thanked” PM Shehbaz and the Pakistani government for welcoming him and sent his greetings to the Pakistanis who “come to the streets […] and call for the freedom of Al Quds Al Sharif (Jerusalem)”.
He highlighted that there were “some common faith and religions which are inter-connected and no one can disconnect them”. The president also asserted that exchanging “potentials and capabilities” that existed in both countries would serve the interests of the two nations.
Speaking about the meeting with PM Shehbaz, Raisi said the two had decided to promote bilateral relations at “political, economic, trade [and] cultural” levels.
Noting that there were a “number of common positions and stands” between Iran and Pakistan on terrorism, Raisi said: “Both countries are determined to fight against terrorism, organised crime, narcotics and different forms and manifestations of insecurity which endanger our two countries and at the same time the region.
“Probably, you can find some individuals who do not favour expansion and promotion of good bilateral relations between Iran and Pakistan but who cares? It is not important.”
Recalling his and PM Shehbaz’s visit to the Mand-Pishin border market for its inauguration, Raisi noted “some steps had been taken” but termed them “not sufficient” and stressed the need for further action in this regard.
“The great people of Iran changed the illegal and unfair sanctions imposed against my country into an opportunity […] Today, Iran is a great instance of development and technology and we register our readiness in order to share and transfer our expertise and our knowledge in this regard with the great people of Pakistan,” the president said.

Meanwhile, PM Shehbaz called for strengthening Pak-Iran ties despite challenges: “We have to keep this relationship strong despite the challenges we both face.”
The premier said that the two leaders had detailed discussions on “religious, cultural, diplomatic, investment and security matters” during their meeting.
The prime minister praised Raisi as an “ocean of political intelligence and wisdom”, adding that Iran would progress further under his leadership.
Highlighting that it was time to make the relationship between the two countries “stable”, PM Shehbaz expressed hope that the shared borders could be transformed into areas “where business, progress and prosperity is seen everywhere”.
He emphasised that today was an opportunity to “turn this friendship […] into a sea of development and prosperity”.
The prime minister praised Raisi for Iran’s “strong stance” on the ongoing Israeli offensive on Gaza, which has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians and has entered its seventh month. “The [United Nations] Security Council resolution is being shredded to bits and the entire world is silent,” he said.
PM Shehbaz also highlighted the plight of those in Indian-occupied Kashmir, appreciating the Iranian president for voicing support for them.
The premier thanked Raisi for visiting his “second home” and said that the ties between both countries would further strengthen as a result of his visit.
In their meeting, PM Shehbaz and Raisi agreed on joint efforts to eradicate terrorism, state-run Radio Pakistan reported. The two leaders also held discussions to increase trade and communication links between their countries, the report added.
PM Shehbaz was quoted as saying that the entire nation welcomed the Iranian president’s visit while Raisi expressed gratitude to the premier for the warm welcome accorded to him, Radio Pakistan said.
Raisi later met President Asif Ali Zardari at the President House.
“We expressed satisfaction at the trajectory of bilateral ties and agreed to further strengthen our dialogue and cooperation to reinforce existing ties,” President Zardari was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Presidency’s X account.
He further said that Pakistan and Iran were bound by a common religion, history and culture.

Story by Abdullah Mohmand

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