ISLAMABAD – President of Iran Dr Hassan Rouhani on Saturday said that wider connectivity between Gwadar and Chabahar ports would link Pakistan and Iran with the Central Asian countries.
Addressing a press conference here at the conclusion of his two-day official visit, he said more road and rail networks between the neighbouring countries would spur immense trade and business activities, resultantly leading to progress and prosperity in the whole region.
He viewed the development of Gwadar port vital for linkage with the countries up to Central Asia, besides referring to the Chabahar port as significant one in the region. He expressed his country’s strong desire for intensified relations and cooperation with Pakistan in all spheres, including trade, economy, energy, education, science and technology.
President Rouhani described his visit and meetings with the Pakistani leadership as very constructive and fruitful. During the meetings, he said, the two sides held wide ranging discussions for cooperation in the areas of trade, economy and energy as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.
About Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, Rouhani said Iran had almost completed the work on its side of borderon the pipeline and would be in a position to provide gas toPakistan in a few months. It was now up to Pakistan to initiate work on its side, he added. He said Iran could meet all the energy needs of Pakistan.
The country was already selling 1,000 MW of electricity to Pakistan, which could be increased up to 3,000 MW. Rouhani said Iran was also interested to have connectivity between Gawadar and Chahbahar seaports through roads and shipping lines for a win-win situation to both the countries. To a question about the relations between Iran and India, he said, “Whenever Iran comes closer to Pakistan such rumours are spread.”
Rouhani said Iran was the first country that recognized Pakistan after the latter’s independence in 1947. He also mentioned the decision made by the two countries during his visit of opening two more border crossings, which he said, would help promote trade and people-to-people contacts. About the Afghan peace process, he said both Pakistan and Iran had always held consultations and collaborated on the issue.
“During my talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, we have specifically talked about the issue,” he said, adding that his country fully agreed to a proposal by the Pakistani side for holding trilateral talks among Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. He stressed that peace and security was vital for Afghanistan and Iran was ready to do whatever it could to help bring peace and stability there.
The Iranian president said that Pakistan and Iran were playing their parts to resolvethe Afghan issue through bilateral and trilateral consultations. About Iran-Saudi tensions, he said that Iran was not interested in any tensions as it was a peace-loving country. Different Muslim countries, including Pakistan, had offered to resolve the issue, he added.
Rouhani stressed that any problem among the Muslim countries should be resolved as the Muslim world required peace, progress and prosperity. To another question, he said Pakistan and Iran had agreed for steps for more secure common borders, which would also help increase bilateral trade through setting up border market places.
Brushing aside reports about Pak-Iran ties, he termed them mere rumours, which were created whenever both countries came closer. “We are like-minded.” Responding to a query, the Iranian president maintained that regional issues could not be resolved militarily and referred to Iran’s nuclear deal with the world powers as an indication of peaceful tactics to sort out differences.
He said he had also talked with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over the issues confronted by the Muslim world. He said that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should be an effective platform for bringing closeness, unity and cooperation among the Muslim world.
About Syrian ceasefire, Dr Rouhani expressed the hope that it would hold the ground, paving way for restoration of peace between the government and opposition. He urged all the parties to play their role to resolve the Syrian issue through peace.