ISLAMABAD: The top military commanders of Pakistan and Iran on Monday decided to strengthen defence and military-to-military cooperation between the two neighbours, a decision appears to be necessitated by the current regional environment.
The understanding was reached during formal talks between Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Chief of General Staff Iranian Armed Forces Major General Dr Mohammad Bagheri here at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
The top Iranian commander, who is leading a high-powered delegation, also met Foreign Minister Hussain Haroon at the foreign office.
At the GHQ, the two chiefs discussed matters of mutual interest, regional security, defence cooperation and Pak-Iran border management, said a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). The Pakistan Army chief, the statement added, emphasised the need to further enhance military to military cooperation between the two Armed Forces. Gen Qamar also said that enhanced Pakistan-Iran cooperation will have a positive impact on peace and security in the region.
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“Visiting dignitary pledged to keep working for better relations between the two brotherly countries and also condemned recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan,” the ISPR further said.
The Iranian general told Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA that Tehran is committed for better relations between Iran and Pakistan. He said that the US along with some other countries was trying to create insecurity in the region. The Iranian commander added that current task of Iran and Pakistan was to enhance bilateral friendship and coordinate with each other in order to achieve peace and security in the region.
“Bagheri described Pakistan as one of the most important neighbours of the Islamic Republic of Iran and said that the country with a population of more than 200 million is interested to have strong ties with Iran,” according to IRNA. 'Iran also attaches great importance to its relations with Pakistan,” he added.
He strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks including the one in Mastung that left at least 150 people dead including Sirja Raisani.
Defence and military cooperation between Pakistan and Iran have seen considerable improvement in recent months apparently because of the current regional developments.
Last November, the Pakistani Army chief visited Iran and held wide-ranging talks not only with the Iranian military but also the political leadership including President Hasan Rowhani. Unlike the past, the two neighbours appear to have developed consensus on some of the regional issues including Afghanistan.
Last week, Pakistan hosted a meeting of intelligence chiefs from China, Russia and Iran to discuss the growing threat posed by Daesh.
Meanwhile, welcoming the chief of general staff in Pakistan, Foreign Minister Hussain Haroon stated that Pakistan and Iran have enjoyed religious and socio-cultural affinities.
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The bilateral relations have continued to strengthen with regular exchange of visits at various levels during the past few years. He added that Pakistan was desirous to further strengthen cooperation with Iran in areas of mutual interest for the benefit of two countries and to ensure peace and stability in the region.
The foreign minister appreciated the Iranian leadership’s strong and consistent support on the issue of Kashmir.
During the meeting, it was noted that both countries have made useful progress in areas of trade, connectivity, cultural relations and enhancing people-to-people contacts. There was a considerable scope to enhance these relations further.
The foreign minister also briefed Major General Mohammad Bagheri on the upcoming general elections in Pakistan, expressing the desire of the government to hold free, fair and transparent elections. The two sides also discussed issues related to peace and stability in Afghanistan and other matters of mutual interest in the region.
General Bagheri conveyed the best wishes of the Iranian leadership and people of Iran for continued prosperity and progress of Pakistan.
He expressed the confidence that the upcoming elections would usher Pakistan to an era of continued growth under strong leadership. He also thanked Pakistan for its principled stance on JCPOA.
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