Pakistan, Iran have great relations: Iranian ambassador

ISLAMABAD: Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan, Mehdi Honardoost has said that before reaching the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Iran and Pakistan , some ambiguities and impediments have to be removed.

He expressed these views in a detailed interview with Daily Times on Tuesday. He said that the current volume of trade between Iran and Pakistan is $700 millions, which is less than its potential and capacity of the neighboring countries. The Iranian Ambassador also condemned Monday’s Quetta attack and said it was a heinous crime against humanity.

Responding a question regarding commercial and trade ties of both countries, he said that Pakistan and Iran have very good relations, and Iran was looking to pursue mega projects with Pakistan. Greater interaction was needed between the private sectors of both countries, which was very important for enhancing bilateral trade.

Iran is providing electricity to Pakistan for Balochistan province.

He said after the lifting sanctions against Iran, some measures would have to be taken by the two sides for enhancing bilateral trade.

He said one of the biggest obstacles to enhancing trade in both countries was the non availability of inter bank transactions between two countries. “We have signed MOU’s for opening up each other’s banks branches to facilitate business community of both countries for enhancing trade.

On progress of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline (IP), he said that both sides should hold dialogue to resolve issues, which is causing a delay on the project. Iran has already spent $2 billion on it as it is almost completed within Iran’s territory.

“But we are still looking for the fulfillment of Pakistan’s commitment for this project. Energy requirements of Pakistan are huge and she needs Iranian gas, which would be cheap from the other sources due to short distance between the two countries,” he said.

He said during the visit of President Dr. Rouhani to Pakistan, both countries agreed for more cooperation between the two sides. The president agreed with Pakistani leadership for need of greater cooperation between the Chambers of Commerce’s of the countries.

Some agreements and understandings of strategic nature for five years were also agreed.

On Iran and Saudi Arabia rivalry, Iranian Ambassador said rivalry between two big Islamic states is never ever in favour of Muslim Ummah.

He said one side was creating disunity among the Muslim world. He stressed upon the need for Muslim countries to maintain strong ties.

On Iranians pilgrimage not offering Hajj this year, he said Iranian delegation visited Saudi Arabia, but Saudi Arabia did not honour their agreement. He said there were some misunderstandings between two Muslim countries, but hoped that these issues would be resolved soon.

He welcomed Pakistani efforts for mediation between Riyadh and Tehran, saying,

“We are ready for any cooperation. We welcome the initiative of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the army chief. But it seems that other side is not interested.”

By Daily Times