ISLAMABAD – President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday called for early finalization and implementation of Pak-Iran projects especially in the energy sector, transportation & connectivity and trade and commercial activities in order to promote greater bilateral cooperation on one hand and to bolster trade and economic ties at regional as well as bilateral level.He said this during his meeting with Iranian delegation headed by Ali Akbar Velayati, Senior Adviser to the Supreme Leader of Iran on International Affairs here at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Wednesday.The delegation included Alireza Haghighian, Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan, Mahdi Ahari Mostafavi, Deputy of International Affairs Department of Supreme Leader office, Seyyed Abbas Araghchi, Deputy of Minister of Foreign Affairs in Asia and Oceania Affairs, Dr. Ali Askari, Deputy of International Affairs, Cultural and Islamic Communications Organization and others.Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Interior Minister Senator A. Rehman Malik, Minister for Water &Power Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Secretary General to the President M. Salman Faruqui, Advisor to PM on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr. Asim Hussain and Jalil Abbas Jilani, Foreign Secretary and other senior officials were present from the Pakistan side.Briefing about the meeting, Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said that that the Pak-Iran bilateral relations with special reference to various economic projects such as Pak-Iran Gas pipeline, rail and roads connectivity, electricity import and wheat export were discussed besides regional situation and other matters of mutual concern.The spokesperson said that the President extended felicitation to the Iranian leadership on their forthcoming national day that falls on February 11. The President said that the people of Pakistan have special attachment with their Iranian brethren and highly value their fraternal ties with them.The President said that it was encouraging to see that the bilateral equation between the two countries was following an upward trajectory. However, he stressed, the two countries must gear up efforts for early finalization and implementation of various economic projects that would not only further strengthen the bilateral relations but would help in meeting the mutual requirements of one another.The President said that taking advantage of our historical, cultural and religious commonalities, concerted efforts should be made to increase trade and economic interaction among the people of the two countries. The President said that there was an urgent need to address the issue of tariff and non-tariff barriers so as to promote mutual trade and to increase trade volume between the two countries. Suggesting encouragement of trade in local currencies, the President said that the two countries should seriously consider preferential tariff and free trade arrangements.He said that better and greater connectivity was also critical for bolstering economic interactions at bilateral as well as regional level. He said that ECO Container Train would revolutionize cargo and transit facilities between the two countries.The President also urged for the need to further facilitate visa procedures and opening new border posts for greater connectivity and interactions.Discussing the bilateral mega projects, the President reiterated Pakistan’s commitment for expeditious implementation of all mega projects including Pak-Iran Gas pipeline, the 1000 MW Taftan-Quetta transmission line, 400 MW Gwader Power supply project, construction of Noshki-Dalbandin sector of Quetta-Taftan Highway, the up-gradation of Quetta-Taftan track and others.Underpinning the importance of these projects, the President observed that the two sides should devise mechanisms for financing of these critical projects for soci0-economic development of the two countries and for the region.Discussing regional situation and shared challenges, the President emphasized upon the need for joining hands against the shared threat of militancy and extremism. He said that poverty, deprivation and less economic opportunities fuel extremism. For defeating this militant mindset, the President continued, there was a need to follow an integrated approach that included greater cooperation in the area of border security, curbing narco-trade and drug-trafficking, creating greater economic opportunities for the people especially those who were worst affected by the scourge of militancy. Deterrence, development and dialogue were the most effective weapon against militancy, the President reiterated.Discussing situation in Afghanistan, the President stressed for the need to have greater coordination for promotion of peace and stability in the neighbouring country.On the situation in Middle East, the President reiterated Pakistan’s principled stance for respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries and said that Pakistan desire peace and stability in the Middle East and would continue to support every effort in this regard.The spokesperson said that the President also asked Ali Akbar Velayati to convey his regards to the Supreme leader and to his counterpart Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 31-Jan-2013 here.