President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday proposed a currency swap agreement between Pakistan and Iran to further strengthen bilateral trade and economic ties between the two brotherly countries. The President made this proposal during his meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad here on Saturday. He said Pakistan was already in the dialogue process with Turkey, Sri Lanka and China for the currency swap arrangement.
President Zardari, who arrived in the Iranian capital on a day-long visit on the invitation of Iranian leadership, held two rounds of talks with President Ahmedinejad, first the delegation level talks and then one-to-one meeting.
The two leaders agreed on adopting regional approach to addressing the growing challenge of extremism and militancy.
President Zardari and President Ahmedinejad expressed the confidence that joint efforts would prove helpful in countering terrorism, which was a common enemy for the entire region and the world.
President Zardari mentioned the long drawn fight against militancy and stressed the need for long-term measures and joint efforts to eliminate this menace.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Minister for Water and Power Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Petroleum Dr Asim Hussain and Spokesman to the President Farhatullah Babar also accompanied the President.
The Spokesman to the President, while briefing the media, said President Zardari held wide ranging parleys with President Ahmedinejad, with focus on establishing a comprehensive strategic and economic partnership between the two countries.
The two leaders expressed their resolve to upgrade and further intensify their existing bilateral ties, particularly in the fileds of energy, trade and economic for the mutual benefit of two brotherly countries.
The two leaders held in-depth discussions that covered the entire spectrum of bilateral ties and the regional and international issues of mutual interest.
The discussion also focused on the ways and means to further intensify their mutually beneficial cooperation in all areas of common interest.
The two sides agreed on the need to expand, strengthen and take their bilateral cooperation in diverse fields to the level, which commensurate their warm, deep rooted and historic ties.
President Zardari lauded Iran’s constructive engagement in the trilateral process and in this respect mentioned the last month’s Pakistan-Iran-Afghanistan Trilateral Summit hosted by Tehran.
President Zardari proposed to the Iranian Government to consider creating an Integrated Border Management Regime between Pakistan and Iran. Both the sides need to intensify consultations and take pragmatic steps for meeting the challenge of militancy and extremism, he added.
He said Pakistan and Iran had vital interests in the stability and peace of the region.
President Zardari mentioned the growing problem of narcotics and human trafficking in the region, which he said, required mutual coordination among the governments.
He said Pakistan and Iran faced a common menace of drug trafficking across their borders and expressed the hope that a mechanism in the form of trilateral initiative involving Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran would help counter the menace in the region.
The two leaders also discussed cooperation in the energy sector with particular reference to the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project besides supply of power from Iran to Balochistan.
President Zardari said Pakistan and Iran had the potential to undertaking joint economic projects in Afghanistan in order to enhance connectivity, build infrastructure, rail and road links as well as trilateral cooperation in other mega projects.
The Iranian President also agreed on taking full advantage of geo-strategic locations for ushering in a new era of development in the two countries in particular, and in the whole region.
The President urged for further deepening Pak-Iran bilateral cooperation in all areas, particularly trade, energy, security, communication and infrastructure.
Pakistan attaches great importance to its cordial equation with Iran and regards Iran as an important friend and player in the region, President Zardari added.
He recalled that he had discussed upgradation of Pakistan-Iran-Turkey rail transport system with Turkish President Abdullah Gul.
He said it could prove as a win-win mega project that would enhance regional connectivity and boost regional trade.
The President said that considerable work had been done on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project and it was important now to move towards its implementation phase.
Zardari said there was a need to bring about a quantitative increase in Pak-Iran bilateral trade to at least four billion dollars in the next few years which at present was one billion dollars.
He called for working together to identify impediments to full implementation of Pak-Iran Preferential Trade Agreement concluded in 2006.
He also proposed for a bilateral Pakistan-Iran Free Trade Agreement.
On developments in Afghanistan, President Zardari said Pakistan supported the process initiated by President Karzai for national reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.
He said Pakistan supported a reconciliation process which must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned one and added that the Pakistan Government was ready to provide all possible assistance in capacity-building of Afghan institutions.
He said Afghanistan should not again become a play-field for proxy wars or civil strife after the withdrawal of NATO/ISAF forces.
The President said that both Pakistan and Iran had vital interests in the stability and peace in Afghanistan.
Iranian President Ahmadinejad appreciated the role Pakistan was playing in the promotion of regional stability and peace and for its keen interest in further strengthening existing cordial equation with Iran.
Farhatullah Babar described the visit as important and part of the policy to deepen economic and political cooperation with Iran, reach out regional states to address issues of stability and peace in the region, further peace process in Afghanistan and reverse the tide of terrorism.
Earlier in the day Foreign Office Spokesperson Ms. Tehmina Janjua in her weekly briefing to media in Islamabad termed President Zardari’s visit to Iran as “important and integral to Pakistan’s ongoing efforts to deepen engagements with a brotherly neighbour”.
She said the visit of President Zardari to Iran, on the invitation of Iranian leadership, also aimed at widening horizons of multidimensional cooperation, an essential part of Pakistan’s reach-out to regional states for continuous consultations, coordination and cooperation on issue of stability and peace in the region.
“Pakistan attaches special significance to joining efforts of immediate neighbours in an endeavour to bring peace to Afghanistan and to reversing the tide of terrorism that has afflicted the region”, the Foreign Office spokesperson added. – app