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Iran's Zarif Meets Pakistan's Top Leadership, Discusses Ways to Deepen Cooperation

File photo of Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (Reuters)

File photo of Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. (Reuters)

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called on Prime Minister Imran Khan who said Pakistan and Iran enjoyed close relations and the two countries "must further strengthen bilateral cooperation for mutual benefit".

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif met with Pakistan's top civil and military leadership on Wednesday during which the two sides discussed ways to deepen bilateral cooperation in different sectors. Zarif, who is here on a two-day official visit, called on Prime Minister Imran Khan who said Pakistan and Iran enjoyed close relations and the two countries "must further strengthen bilateral cooperation for mutual benefit", according to the Prime Minister's Office.

Prime Minister Khan also emphasised the need for enhanced bilateral cooperation with special emphasis on bilateral trade and economic relations. He also underscored the need to work closely for promoting peace, security and development in the region. Khan also talked about peace and stability in Afghanistan and said that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict. He said that peace in Afghanistan would be beneficial for the entire region as it would create new opportunities for trade and economic cooperation as well as regional connectivity.

He extended condolences over the loss of lives in Iran due to COVID-19 pandemic. He shared Pakistan's experience, including the "smart lockdown" strategy and other measures, to contain the pandemic. Zarif conveyed personal greetings and commitment of President Hassan Rouhani to work closely with Prime Minister Khan for further strengthening bilateral cooperation in diverse fields. Separately, Zarif called on Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed matters of mutual interest and regional security situation, including the Afghan reconciliation process.

"During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, regional security situation including Afghan reconciliation process, Pak-Iran border management and border markets were discussed," the army said in a statement. Gen Bajwa said that enhanced Pakistan-Iran cooperation will have positive impact on regional peace and stability.

Zarif appreciated Pakistan's role for regional stability, especially the Afghan peace process and pledged to keep working for better relations between two countries. Earlier, the Iranian Foreign Minister held delegation-level talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi during which the two sides discussed the opportunities for bilateral cooperation in diverse fields and strengthening of contacts between the two counties.

The two ministers also "expressed concern over the tendency of rising Islamophobia in some European countries and made it clear that blasphemous attitude in the garb of freedom of expression is not acceptable at all," Radio Pakistan reported. They also exchanged views on bilateral relations, promotion of bilateral cooperation in diverse fields, and the Coronavirus pandemic. They also discussed better border management, promotion of mutual contacts, and provision of better facilities to the pilgrims.

Qureshi said the two nations can benefit through promotion of cooperation in bilateral trade, investment, security and other areas of mutual interest. He also raised the Kashmir issue with his Iranian counterpart. This was Zarif's fourth visit to Pakistan since inauguration of the current Pakistani government. However, Zarif has travelled to Pakistan 11 times as Foreign Minister.

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