UNITED NATIONS: Iranian President Hassan Rowhani has said that his country wishes to become part of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Iranian leader expressed the desire in a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday. He appreciated Premier Sharif’s vision to translate CPEC into reality.
According to a press release issued by Pakistan’s mission to the UN, the two leaders recognised that connectivity projects were vital to the progress of the region. In particular they reiterated the complimentarity between Gwadar and Chabahar ports that could boost regional trade exponentially in decades ahead.
Nawaz and Rowhani discussed possibilities for bilateral cooperation in the field of energy, especially oil, gas and electricity, while noting with satisfaction the positive trajectory of bilateral ties between their countries.
He said he would nominate two focal persons who would finalise energy projects with Iran in coming days. Border management and security were also discussed.
“They noted that progress on Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline and electricity import from the Islamic Republic would help overcome Pakistan’s energy shortages in the coming years,” it said.
The prime minister was assisted by his foreign policy aides Sartaj Aziz and Tariq Fatemi, and Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, among others.
The lifting of international sanctions against Iran has paved the way for resumption of economic relations between the two countries. Current trade volume remains low at $268 million per annum. In this regard, Premier Nawaz stressed on the need to remain engaged at the expert level to remove whatever technical delays that continue to hold back resumption of full economic cooperation between the two countries.
Rowhani said Iran could install a power plant on the border with Pakistan to supply electricity. “We consider Pakistan’s economic development as our development,” he was quoted as saying.
Nawaz said the hearts of the people of Pakistan and Iran beat together. “Iran is a brotherly country. Our interests are same; we need to further consolidate our economic cooperation.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2016.