Pakistan, Iran vow to expedite joint mega projects

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In his meeting with Iranian President Mehmoud Ahmedinejad on the sidelines of the 12th ECO summit on Tuesday, President Asif Ali Zardari emphasised the need to expedite implementation of various joint mega projects. The two leaders discussed the multi-billion dollar Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, electricity transmission lines and rail and road projects. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel, Pakistan’s ambassador to Azerbaijan Inayatullah Kakar, and Alamgir Babar were also present. President Zardari said greater interaction between the leadership and the people of the two countries would not only strengthen mutual historical, cultural and religious bonds but would also help to benefit from each others’ resources and expertise. The president said there existed a huge potential of trade between the two countries and urged for effective steps which included preferential tariff and free trade arrangements to reach the bilateral trade target of $10 billion. “The agreement on export of wheat and rice to Iran was a test case for our barter trade and if successful it can be replicated in other areas,” President Zardari said and stressed the need for removing tariff and non-tariff barriers and identifying alternative arrangements to further enhance the bilateral trade. The two leaders also reviewed progress on the mega projects, including the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, the 1000MW Taftan-Quetta power transmission line, the 100MW Gwadar power supply project, construction of Noshki-Dalbandin section of Quetta-Taftan Highway and upgrading of the Quetta-Taftan Railway Track and urged for early implementation of these projects. President Zardari said Pakistan was deeply concerned over the fast deteriorating situation in Syria, “as we believed that stability in this region was important for peace in the region and beyond”. He said Pakistan desired an immediate end to the bloodshed in Syria and would continue to advocate principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of states. Zardari also reiterated Pakistan’s principled stance of supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process. He said control of trans-border movement of drugs and human trafficking among Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran was a priority of the government and stressed the need to intensify cooperation at the bilateral and trilateral levels.

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