Regional Diplomacy: Pakistan, Iran discuss Afghanistan, counter-terrorism efforts

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By Muhammad Luqman

The 10th round of bilateral talks between Pakistan and Iran  was held in Islamabad on Tuesday, with major  focus on regional stability , facilitation to the Pakistani zaireen (pilgrims) and improved railway connectivity.

“Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran Syed Abbas Araghchi, who had arrived Islamabad this morning for the meeting, led their respective delegations ,“ according to a foreign office statement.

Bilateral Political Consultation between Iran and Pakistan is one of the several important institutional mechanisms to regularly review and chart the way forward in various areas of cooperation.

During the meeting, both sides expressed satisfaction at the continuing warmth in the bilateral relationship anchored in religious and socio-cultural affinities. In addition, a long ‘border of friendship’ between the two countries has provided a means for regular people-to-people contacts over the centuries. In recent years, both countries have also provided each other principled support on the issues of Kashmir and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“The Bilateral Consultations provided the opportunity to review the progress made under various other institutional mechanisms concerning consular, economic, trade and border related issues between the two sides,” the statement adeed.

Islamabad and Teheran are presently working to increase the volume of bilateral trade to US $ 5 billion through facilitation of business communities by scaling down of trade barriers and speedy progress on facilitating preferential trade.

Both sides have agreed to hold the 21st session of the Joint Economic Commission early next year.

According to foreign office spokesman, Pakistan and Iran, as the major geographic neighbours of Afghanistan also have commonality of views and future approach to restore complete peace and stability in the country. Both the countries have been affected adversely due to the 40-years old conflict and instability in Afghanistan which has resulted in serious challenges including millions of Afghan refugees, the narcotics trade, illegal migration and the rise of new terrorist outfits like Daesh in the war ridden country. It was noted that fully supporting an Afghan-owned Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process was the best way to overcome the serious security and politico-economic challenges faced by Pakistan and Iran. A coordinated approach in this regard was important to safeguard the core interests of both Pakistan and Iran in this situation.

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