Pakistan backs Iran over US nuclear deal row

ISLAMABAD: As Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday vowed to further strengthen Pakistan-Iran ties, the government expressed unequivocal support for Iran’s position on its troubled nuclear deal with the West that has been abandoned by the United States and urged the other parties to the agreement to remain committed to it.

Talking to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who is the first foreign leader to visit Pakistan after the assumption of office by the PTI-led coalition government, PM Khan recalled the “inseparable bonds” connecting Pakistan and Iran together and said that during his government he would make all efforts “to cement these relations in various areas to the benefit of both countries”.

Emphasising the importance of Pakistan and Iran in the region, PM Khan said the two countries “remained the key to growth and prosperity in the region through enhancing connectivity and promoting people to people linkages”.

Imran vows to strengthen ties with Tehran

Iran made a special outreach to the new government in a bid to reset the ties that have suffered deep mistrust over the past decades. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani soon after Mr Khan’s inauguration sent in a felicitations message.

Mr Zarif delivered an invitation to PM Khan for the upcoming Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) summit in Iran, which is scheduled to be held in October 2018.

Mr Khan thanked the Iranian supreme leader’s support for Kashmiris’ struggle for their right to self-determination as well as for the manner in which Pakistan’s Independence Day was celebrated in Iran, the PM’s Office said in a statement.

Iran this year celebrated Pakistan’s Independence Day in an unprecedented manner displaying large greetings hoardings along major highways in Iranian cities and electronic screens in their public transport system.

The stage for better ties was set last year when Pakistan and Iran started cooperating on border security. The improved border security situation was mentioned during Mr Zarif’s meeting with his counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

“While expressing satisfaction over cooperation with regard to the Pakistan-Iran border, it was agreed to continue close consultations through various forums in this regard,” the Foreign Office said.

FM Qureshi in his meeting with his Iranian counterpart expressed strong support for Iranian position on Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as Iranian nuclear deal from which the US has exited.

“As regards JCPOA, while supporting Iran’s principled stance, Mr Qureshi expressed the hope that remaining parties to the agreement would uphold their commitments in letter and spirit. This was important given IAEA’s repeated verification that Iran has strictly adhered to the terms of agreement,” the FO said.

Pakistan has been a consistent supporter of Iranian position on its nuclear row with the West. Islamabad believes that all countries should have access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. The statement was, therefore, in line with Pakistan’s longstanding position on the matter.

Both foreign ministers agreed to hold the next rounds of Bilateral Political Consultations and the Joint Economic Commission at early dates. “Useful exchange of views on strengthening cooperation in economic, trade and connectivity sectors, cultural and people to people links, took place,” the FO said.

Japanese minister

The Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kazuyuki Nakane and Foreign Minister Qureshi in their meeting agreed to increasing bilateral contacts to revitalise the relationship between the two countries.

“The Foreign Minister acknowledged the position of Japan as an important development partner. While recognising the economic assistance provided by Japan, he invited Japanese investment in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and assured facilitation to Japanese investors in all the sectors. The Foreign Minister emphasised the need to correct the balance of trade, which is currently heavily tilted in favour of Japan,” the FO said about their meeting.

The two agreed to explore ways for strengthening bilateral economic cooperation.

Mr Nakane invited Mr Qureshi to visit Japan.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2018

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